Record Crowds, Temps Converge For Hoopfest

SPOKANE – Two records may be broken this weekend as a record number of Hoopfest players will be greeted by record temperatures on downtown basketball courts.

Hoopfest organizers as many as 200,000 people will be in Spokane this weekend for the three-on-three basketball tournament with teams coming from as far away as California, Canada, Illinois and New York.

“A bunch of buddies have been coming over here for years and I’ve heard the stories and I thought its time for me to go over there and leave my name there too,” Norman Benson from Chicago said.

In all more than half of the players in this year’s tournament are from outside Spokane County.

Of the players, 12,000 are from the local area, about 4,700 are from western Washington and the next largest contingents are visiting Spokane from Idaho, Montana and Oregon. Approximately 600 players are visiting the Lilac City from outside the Pacific Northwest.

“I’ve played in a lot of tournaments. Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, California … this is the place to be though, always beautiful weather, can’t beat Spokane,” Montana resident Robert Fyant said.

All of those players and spectators converging on Riverfront Park this weekend are going to be dealing with more than just the action on the court; they’re going to be seeing some record temperatures of that big orange ball in the sky.

Twenty years ago the founders of Hoopfest picked this weekend for its predicted hot weather and today Hoopfest organizers and players alike have strategies to help beat the heat.

“Drinking a lot of water … we started early yesterday, we made sure everybody on our team was drinking a lot of water, getting hydrated,” player Billy Wilson said.

With record high temperatures predicted Hoopfest officials and the Red Cross are telling people to wear sunscreen, get out of the sun whenever you can and most importantly stay hydrated.

“I think it’s easy to loose to track having fun and the sun is beating down its easy to not realize that your not drinking enough water,” Kathleen Sullivan with the Spokane Hoopfest Association said.

Some symptoms of heat exhaustion are similar to how you feel after heavy exercise: sweatiness, fast heartbeat and shallow breathing. If you’re downtown at Hoopfest this weekend and start feeling sick there are four first aid stations available to help treat people.

“The first aid stations and the ped meds are all ready for anything that might happen on the courts as a result of the heat,” Sullivan said.

Another concern deals with the ground itself as the sun beats down on the pavement and warms the asphalt up above the century mark. If players fall or skid on the courts they could actually burn themselves on the asphalt.