Luxury boxes and small-town basketball go together like caviar and corn dogs.
It’s an unlikely fit, but at Spokane’s State B high school basketball tournament this week, fans are taking advantage of the frills.
On Friday, most rooters bunched together near the courts in the arena to cheer their teams. The fortunate ones eased themselves into deep cushioned seats overlooking the crowd.
“You don’t have to mingle with the peasants,” joked 16-year-old Matt Wagner from the front of one box. His mother, Linda Wagner, kept an eye on her son and his teenage friends, who were sharing the box for the day.
“It’s a treat to sit here,” she said.
A Harrington wheat farming family, the Wagners got to use the box at the invitation of a cousin whose construction company leases one of the suites.
The luxury suites are used throughout the year to entertain clients or boost employee morale. Their seats are softer and bigger than those in the rest of the arena, and the rooms include sofas, a refrigerator, sink and restroom.
Alcohol is available inside the boxes - even at the B tournament - for any adult willing to pay the price. A bottle of Jack Daniels goes for $40.
The Wagners opted for soft drinks.
Across the arena, fans from Pateros mingled inside the Spokane Chiefs sky box.
“It’s kind of cool,” said Adina Hofmann.
The Chiefs hockey team hosted the Pateros Billygoats for the tournament, and offered them the use of the luxury box for the four-day event.
Even though the new arena has added an uptown flavor in the form of suites, the B tournament hasn’t lost any of its family feel.
Hofmann was there with her mom, dad and grandparents, all from Pateros. “They’ve treated us really nice,” said Vicki Hull, the mother of Pateros boys coach Mike Hull. “It makes us feel real special.”
The biggest sky box is controlled by the Arena itself, which leases it to the public for individual dates.
Norm Brock, an attorney from Davenport, had the arena box on Friday to host a party for his clients, who stopped in to chat and hang out for a while.
Even though Davenport didn’t have a team in this year’s tournament, a lot of the fans from small towns are well acquainted.
Brock said he enjoyed himself so much he is planning to lease the box again next year.
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