Despite delay, Hoopfest lovers still enjoy traditions on hot original weekend

SPOKANE, Wash. – Tens of thousands of people were supposed to be playing in Hoopfest this weekend. Though the event is delayed until September, many still made the most of the original weekend.

Two years in a row, players didn’t get to compete in Hoopfest in its original weekend because of the pandemic.

The last weekend of June is full of traditions, and though it didn’t play out like it was supposed to, Hoopfest lovers still had somewhere to go. There is a brand new basketball court on the North Bank of Riverfront Park. On the court, a recently finished mural full of bright colors with sponsorship from MultiCare.

Throughout the afternoon, players were still able to put their skills to the test.

“Yesterday, when we finally got the lines painted and the fence went away, immediately people were playing basketball,” said Matt Santangelo, the executive director of Hoopfest. “So, that makes it all worthwhile. It makes everything worthwhile to see it getting it used and loved.”

Pushing the event back to September was a bit of a “silver lining,” Santangelo said.

Thousands of people didn’t have to gather in the heat wave Spokane is going through right now. Though, back in 2015, Hoopfest weekend was played in triple digit temps.

This time, they’re off the hook.

“It is nice not having to battle this heat and the risk associated with being outside all weekend long,” Santangelo said.

Though players didn’t have to brave the heat, volunteers and the rest of Hooptown USA’s staff did by carrying out a tradition. About ten groups of people put new nets up around town, going to about 50 different courts across Spokane.

“It’s just a way to give back to the basketball community,” said Rob Davis, the site director for Hoopfest.

Davis said he wasn’t as sad it didn’t happen on the original weekend.

“It hit me more last year when everything was shut down… not having the tournament,” Davis said. “This year, we’ve got solid hopes for September to pull it off in some form of fashion for sure.”

Even though thousands of people weren’t gathered to enjoy Hoopfest on its traditional weekend, there was still exciting energy in the air with the reveal of the official ball and poster, which featured former Gonzaga player Corey Kispert.

“Hoopfest is meant to be in June. We’re thrilled about the opportunity to have Hoopfest in September this year, but really excited to get back to our weekend, which will be this weekend next year,” Santangelo said.

RELATED: Hoopfest 2021 ball and poster revealed