SPOKANE, Wash. – Sports will bring visitors from out of town and out of state to Spokane all five weeks in March.
Last weekend, the West Coast Conference Wheelchair Championships brought more than 100 athletes and their fans and families to town. Currently, the Washington State “B” Basketball Championships are underway at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, bringing about 2,000 people from across the state to town. The end of March brings the much-anticipated NCAA Men’s Tournament to town.
But the event that brings the most people to Spokane in March is the Pacific Northwest Qualifier volleyball tournament. About 5,000 athletes and their families will use approximately 10,000 hotel rooms filled March 22-24.
Visit Spokane President/CEO Cheryl Kilday said these events not only generate money, they can make a memory that generates future visits to Spokane.
“They may not have picked Spokane otherwise,” Kilday said. “Then they get here and think, ‘Wow, what a great place. I could see myself moving here and opening my own business.’ Or, ‘I could move my business or expand my business to Spokane.’”
The Spokane Sports Commission also sees these sports tournaments as resume-builders and opportunities to expose people to the city.
“I always think of the State “B” Basketball Tournament,” Brad Moeller of the Spokane Sports Commission said. “These kids come in and get a positive impression of Spokane. Some of ‘em may be from Seattle or who-knows-where. Maybe a job opportunity opens up 20 years later, they have that positive feeling about Spokane and it may be, “Yeah, I’d love to move to Spokane and take a job.’”
Visit Spokane estimates tourism and sports events bring in $17,000,000 in March alone. Still, May and June bring in even more money with major events like Bloomsday and Hoopfest.