Longtime fitness center in Concord is trying to make a new name for itself 

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett overlooks the new gym at the facility on Friday, January 19, 2024. The former tennis courts now has new floors for basketball and other indoor activities.

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett overlooks the new gym at the facility on Friday, January 19, 2024. The former tennis courts now has new floors for basketball and other indoor activities. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Mark Vincent gets in a workout before going to work at the front desk of Capital City Sports and Fitness on Friday.

Mark Vincent gets in a workout before going to work at the front desk of Capital City Sports and Fitness on Friday.

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett overlooks the new gym at the facility on Friday. The former tennis courts now has new floors for basketball and other indoor activities.

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett overlooks the new gym at the facility on Friday. The former tennis courts now has new floors for basketball and other indoor activities. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

Mark Vincent gets in a workout before going to work at the front desk of the Capital City Sports and Fitness on Friday, January 19, 2024.

Mark Vincent gets in a workout before going to work at the front desk of the Capital City Sports and Fitness on Friday, January 19, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett at the indoor pool of the facility on Friday.

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett at the indoor pool of the facility on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett overlooks the indoor pool on Friday, January 19, 2024.

Capital City Sports and Fitness manager Frances Plunkett overlooks the indoor pool on Friday, January 19, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 01-29-2024 3:40 PM

Modified: 01-29-2024 4:26 PM


Frances Plunckett doesn’t mind if you get the name wrong.

She’s been living in Weare for nearly 20 years. She understands that “The Racquet Club of Concord” rolls off tongues in this area like any other Concord landmark, such as the State House and the LOB (Legislative Office Building).

“The Racquet Club of Concord.”

In truth, it’s gone. The latest owners, a seven-person investment group, changed the name to Capital City Sports and Fitness and opened last summer after renovating and expanding to 70,000 square feet.

“This has been here forever, since the ‘70s,” said Plunkett, who, as the facilities manager, is the face of the business during the day. “The other name, that’s fine, that’s what everybody knows us as. ‘The Racquet Club of Concord,’ so we understand.”

The business remains in a long, white building that looks like an old warehouse from the outside. Inside, though, the floors are new, the paint on the walls is fresh and the basketball courts gleam from the lights above.

It began strictly as a tennis center and eventually fell into some disrepair. Plunkett has been at the facility for seven years and has seen changes. She said the previous owners had plans to renovate but moved too slowly. Then COVID hit and squeezed cash flow.

“The new owners came in with a different plan and a different vision, so they were willing to take this on,” Plunkett said.

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There are now five multi-use courts for basketball, volleyball, soccer and futsal, a form of soccer.

The pickleball and racquetball courts remain. There’s an on-site café and a hot tub. The Capital City Basketball program runs year-round leagues and clinics and is coached by former Concord star Joey Craigue, who’s part of the investment group.

He and another owner, Chris Coates, a star in his own right at Winnacunnet High School and later at Keene State College, already had a bond through their work in AAU basketball.

They saw their partnership as a win-win, with Craigue securing a shiny new headquarters for his AAU program, running basketball drills and packing the gym during games, in exchange for increased memberships, generated through the huge stable of players that Craigue coaches in all age brackets.

“We always played each other and had fun and rattled off an idea the last 10 years that maybe we could get a facility together,” Craigue said. “We were lucky enough to get it done.”

Coates was unstoppable in high school and college. He was named the top player in New Hampshire by a national committee that annually chooses the top 50 players, state by state. He was a two-time All-America at Keene State, averaging 24 points per game.

He played professionally in Australia, France and Norway, competing in front of 10,000 fans now and then. When he retired, his dad offered advice.

“Use your name before they forget about who you are,” Coates said his father told him.

He helped facilitate the move by American players to oversee teams and worked as a sports agent. He founded an AAU program and coached and trained kids for 20 years.

He’s got another facility in Hampton, the Sports Barn, which also features high-octane basketball practices and games.

Now, he, Craigue and others are captains of a new ship: Capital City Sports and Fitness. They hope the name catches on.

“I think it’s great that they still say that,” Plunkett said. “I think there’s going to be some new people that call us Capital City Sports, but as far as the Racquet Club of Concord goes, we’ll still hear that.

“Everybody loves the Racquet Club of Concord.”