In West Central’s Cannon Park, the passing of the city’s pool bond meant the replacement of a worn-down, leaking pool with a new pool, complete with slides and other water toys. But to make room for the new pool, it also meant the small yet heavily used basketball courts had to be torn down.
“There was no money in the pool bond to replace the courts,” said Brenda Corbett, chairwoman of the West Central Neighborhood Council, “but we just couldn’t be without basketball courts.”
Serendipity brought Corbett in contact with the Hoopfest Foundation when she called to ask if Hoopfest banners were going up in West Central, just like downtown.
“We got to talking about the basketball courts,” said Corbett. “They let us write up an application even though the deadline had passed.”
Come fall, Hoopfest will sponsor a new basketball court to be built in the park.
“Building courts around town is part of our charitable giving,” said Rick Steltenpohl, executive director of the Spokane Hoopfest Association. “We have done 20 courts since 1994 – that’s almost one a year. Most are in Spokane, but we’ve also done courts in Fairfield and Clarkston and other smaller towns.”
The Hoopfest courts are full-size basketball courts with striping and a bold H for Hoopfest on the backboard. Steltenpohl explained that anyone can apply for a Hoopfest-sponsored court and every year the requests come in from all over the Spokane area.
“When selecting a place, we look for areas where there isn’t easy access to good basketball courts,” Steltenpohl said. “If you are right down the street from a school with a great court, we’re not as likely to pick you.”
The nearest basketball court for West Central residents right now is the Hoopfest-built court at Audubon Park, Corbett said.
“When Brenda approached us she said, ‘These courts mean so much to the community,’ ” Steltenpohl said. “So we said, let’s make it happen.”
The old basketball court in Cannon Park was a small asphalt court in need of a serious overhaul.
“It was very poorly repaired, it had no markings, and it really needed a lot of repair,” Corbett said.
The new court will be closer to the West Central Community Center, toward the west end of the park.
“This new court will be a much better court than the one we had,” said Tony Madunich, manager of park operations for the city of Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Department. “On the old one the kids could play horse and stuff like that, but it wasn’t the best place to play basketball.”
Moving the court to the other end of the park also lets a parking lot light double as light for the court.
“There are always people at this park,” Madunich said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the most-used parks in the city.”
Corbett, who has been an outspoken advocate for keeping swimming in the city’s pools free, has lived in West Central for more than 30 years. She’s grateful to the Hoopfest Foundation, she said.
“This is just a great park and it’s used so much by everyone around here,” Corbett said.
She jokingly calls Madunich “a worker of miracles” while talking about other improvements soon to come to the park: renovated restrooms and a picnic shelter.
“It’ll turn into a very family friendly park with lots of different things to do,” said Madunich.
Steltenpohl said some may not be aware of Hoopfest’s community courts program.
“The program is really at the core of what we do,” he said. “We hope to continue to maintain the courts we have and to be able to add more to the community, so more people can go out and play a great game of basketball.”