‘A dream come true’: The Podium is close to being ready for the Spokane Invitational

SPOKANE, Wash. — For a little more than two years, The Podium has been coming to life. Today, the 80,000 sq. ft. space is nearly ready for athletes.

Inside the venue, it features a 200-meter hydraulic track that can go from zero degrees to 12 in a few minutes.

“There’s always been a need for a court facility and additional sports venue, but to have this thing put into the core of downtown is just tremendous,” said Paul Christiansen, Director of Sports.

With the banked track, it allows runners to make the turn with less effort. This means they have the ability to run faster. The track will also have high jump, long jump, pole vault and much more. About 3,000 fans can surround them, with the ability to add more using tip and roll bleachers.

Before athletes make it to the track, they walk into the practice area. It features a training room, an area for the officials and a warm-up track.

“We can put hurdles out here. We can just use for the sprinters to warm up,” Christiansen said.

There are four, 60-meter lanes for the athletes to do that. Runners also do not need to worry about taking off their shoes since the floor is spike-proof.

The possibilities go beyond the track. Christiansen says The Podium can fit nine basketball courts and 16 volleyball courts for events such as the Pacific Northwest Qualifier.

“We’ve looked at USA judo nationals, USA karate nationals, USA gymnastics,” he said. “Sports that need a flat floor.”

They have even talked about drone sports.

All of this equipment is housed on the bottom floor. Up on the main level, fans will find three touch-screen monitors.

“We hope to have any records that are set on the track get pushed to the touchscreen TVs,” Christiansen said.

The main floor will also have a concession area and an amazing view of Riverfront Park.

While The Podium is nearly ready for athletes, the supply chain issue is causing a little problem.

“Some track equipment is made out of vinyl and it seems to be quite a vinyl shortage right now, so we’re waiting on some of our landing systems for high jump and pole vault,” Christiansen said.

However, everything is on track for the Spokane Invitational the weekend of Dec. 11.

“We also have the USA Track and Field elite nationals, which is in February, late-February, and that will bring some of the past Olympians to town for that event,” Christiansen explained.

Most of the events this season will focus on collegiate events. Christiansen said he hopes to bring in more middle and high school track athletes next year.

In the future, Christiansen said they may be able to hold graduations and concerts.

“It’s kinda a dream come true,” he said.

In its first year, Christiansen said The Podium is expected to bring in $33 million in visitor spending.

PHOTOS: An exclusive first look inside the completed Podium sports complex

RELATED: ‘The Podium’ is taking shape in downtown Spokane