If Spokane wanted an excuse in case it can’t match its gold-medal performance as host to the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the struggling economy has provided it. Whose budget can accommodate a trip to the Northwest, plus the pricey tickets to some or all of the 23 events?
But Spokane doesn’t want an excuse. Spokane wants to meet the 2007 standard and surpass it.
And, recession or no recession, ticket sales for the 2010 event are closing in on the 2007 mark of 154,893, which eclipsed the previous record set in 2002 in Los Angeles by more than 30,000 tickets.
No wonder Spokane was chosen over larger cities such as Portland, San Jose, Calif., and Providence, R.I., as the site for this year’s championships, which, over the next 10 days, will also determine the U.S. team for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games a month from now in Vancouver, B.C.
It didn’t happen by accident, as residents of this community know. It took the personal conviction – some might call it gall – of promoters Toby Steward and Barbara Beddor. It took the political faith of state and local leaders, who backed up the application with an investment. It took cooperation and problem-solving by local institutions like the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau and Spokane Transit Authority to assure a smooth experience for travelers. And it continues to take the enthusiastic reception that the people and businesses of an appreciative community will give to event participants.
The payoffs are both tangible and intangible. The national TV audience that will tune in to a Spokane setting over the next two weekends provides a rare opportunity to showcase the Spokane area and validate it, in the eyes of the nation, as a legitimate contender for big-time spectator events.
What’s more, the local economic impact of holding the event here has been estimated at $25.7 million. That sum – like the $1.3 million expected to be generated in state and local tax revenues – comes at a good time.
Like any competitive athlete, the city is eager to top its own personal bests. Over the next week and a half, Spokane will be performing its own triumphant jumps and spins with all the verve and determination of a Sasha Cohen or Evan Lysacek.
Whether ticket sales, already ranked second in the 96-year-old event’s history, can set a record or just come close will depend on sales in the coming days. Either way, it’s been a superb effort for which the organizers should take pride and the residents give thanks.