Recapping Spokane Hoopfest 2015


SportsCenter launched their new live outdoor broadcasts from Spokane’s Annual Hoopfest 3 on 3 Tournament last Sunday morning. The city of Spokane and Gonzaga Basketball are linked like peanut butter and jelly. One look at the inviting shots of the city and the basketball courts everywhere, and armed with a little bit of NCAA Basketball knowledge, a viewer might get the impression that Spokane’s streets look like they do during Hoopfest weekend every day of the week. It is pretty hard to miss Spokane’s passion for basketball.

A few Hoopfest facts:

Spokane Hoopfest is the world’s largest 3 on 3 basketball tournament. In 2015 it consisted of 42 city blocks of basketball courts and hoops, 7,000 teams, 27,000 players, and an estimated 250,000 people filled downtown Spokane to play or watch. 3,000 volunteers work alongside Hoopfest staff members to help pull the whole thing off. The event contributes an estimated 38 million dollars to the local economy and close to 2 million dollars are donated to local charities, as well as the the Nike basketballs that are used during the weekend.

ESPN college basketball commentator Sean Farnham (who used to cover WCC games) was on hand for the SportsCenter broadcast, as was Washington State grad Jayme Sire, who co-hosted the program. Guests on the program included Gonzaga Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mark Few, who was looking very happy, relaxed, and tan, and the father-son duo of Gonzaga basketball alums featuring NBA Hall of Fame player John Stockton and current Sacramento Kings player, son David Stockton.

The Seattle Seahawks werre also represented with linebacker Bruce Irvin and the Seattle Seahawks cheerleaders, the SeaGals, in attendance. The mascots were also in out in force with Butch from WSU and Spike from Gonzaga on hand. Both mascots must have been beyond hot inside their mascot attire in the 90+ degree early morning heat.

There was also an appearance by former Gonzaga basketball players Matt Santangelo (who is the Executive Director of Hoopfest and who also competes as a member of an Elite division team in the event), Dan Dickau, who has made his home in Spokane, and Blake Stepp.

Gonzaga graduates Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos joined Eastern Washington University graduate Parker Kelly on the official 2015 Hoopfest poster titled, “Let’s Dance”. Parker’s father Terry Kelly, a WSU alum, was one of the founding board members of the Spokane Hoopfest Association. The Kelly family, together with a legion of volunteers, helped tape courts on Friday evening after the streets of Spokane were closed to get ready for the 8 am Saturday morning tip-off that comes after the Star Spangled Banner is broadcast over the PA system.

There are also a legion of other Spokane athletes past and present who play. The real beauty of Hoopfest however, is watching players of all ages. Whether it is a 3 on 3 game with third grade kids, to the wheelchair bound 3 on 3 game, and every possible combination in between: girls, ladies, and co-ed.

Hoopfest is a family and community tradition, Spokane’s answer to the annual family picnic. If you aren’t playing, you are watching. If you aren’t watching, you are a volunteer. If you don’t like crowds, you beat a path to one of the beautiful area lakes and chill out until everyone leaves town. Not a basketball player or fan? You are probably at the Ironman Triathalon in Coeur d’Alene, which is also held on Hoopfest weekend.

Now that the 26th year of Hoopfest is in the bag, everyone in Spokane can relax over the long 4th of July weekend with a host of stories to share on the back porch or in the pool.