SPOKANE, Wash. – From 558 teams back in 1990, Spokane Hoopfest has grown to some 7,000 teams annually.
As Hoopfest celebrates its 25th year, organizers are hopeful it will be bigger than ever. Registration ends Monday, May 19. But Hoopfest’s new executive director, Matt Santangelo, is mindful that growth has its risks.
“I think that the challenge is, you start to make some sacrifices on the quality of play, which is the last thing that we want to do,” Santangelo said. “We want the players to really come out and enjoy the event, enjoy the tournament. Because, at the end of the day, it’s basketball. It’s a tournament. It’s a game.”
So far, about 5,600 teams have registered for this year’s Hoopfest. The year 2012 saw the most teams with 7,090. Organizers say it is not uncommon to have a couple thousand teams register in the final week.
This year, Hoopfest will be better equipped for more teams since they’ve added 60 courts on the north side of the river by Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The “north 60,” as organizers call it, will give Hoopfest the most courts it has ever had, and should provide some flexibility to the brackets.
If players respond well to the “north 60,” it could open up a whole new avenue to Hoopfest expansion, if more teams are interested.
“You gotta have it be a great experience for the teams that do show up,” Santangelo said, “and then you think about the hundreds of thousands of people that come down to downtown Spokane, you also want it to be a great experience for them as well.”