Every June, the streets of downtown Spokane are packed as people converge to take part in the biggest outdoor basketball tournament in the world―Hoopfest! This year, over 250,000 players, spectators and volunteers attended the event. One can only imagine what kind of undertaking putting on a tournament of this size presents―without the thousands of volunteers, it could not happen.
Hoopfest started out as a very small tournament and grew from there. In 1990, it started with 511 teams playing on 30 courts; by 2013, Hoopfest signed up a staggering 3,636 teams covering 30 blocks of downtown pavement! Keep in mind, the city does not close the downtown area until 10 p.m. the night before Hoopfest begins, at 8 a.m. sharp on Saturday morning.
This year, Ecova joined up with Hoopfest to help with volunteer needs. We had a team of 18 sign up to volunteer their time on the Thursday and Friday before the event. Our volunteers assisted with team/court monitor sign in and at the merchandise tent. While these may seem like mundane jobs, Hoopfest maintains an all-hands-on-deck attitude and these duties are very important.
While most of the action takes place on Saturday and Sunday, it’s the days prior to the event that are the most important. The construction of 225 hoops and backboards, along with taping out each individual court, including free throw and 3-point lines, is a monumental task in and of itself. Hoopfest volunteers laid down over 30,000 feet of tape starting at 10 p.m. Friday, working all night to ensure all of the courts were completed and ready to go.
As you can imagine, over a quarter of a million people can leave quite an imprint on our downtown area. There are countless food and drink vendors in the riverfront park area, as well as many other vendors lining the downtown streets. This year alone, Hoopfest organizers recycled over six tons of plastic and cardboard!
Charitable contributions from Hoopfest have exceeded well over $1.5 million dollars. Hoopfest donates to a wide variety of recipients including the YMCA and YWCA, St. Luke’s Rehab and the Salvation Army. Hoopfest also dedicates funds to build new and improve existing basketball courts in the area. Hoopfest truly is a community-minded initiative, with very strong ties to our community and our basketball crazed city.
Ecova has already teamed up with Hoopfest for 2014, and we will be given a wider diversity of volunteer opportunities to allow our workforce to make an even bigger impact on this amazing event.
Thank you to those who donated their time throughout the course of Hoopfest this year.
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