Whenever ESPN broadcasts a Gonzaga basketball game, the Davenport Hotel’s marketing director fires up his DVR. Because Matt Jensen can just about count on some gratis gratitude from the network’s on-air personalities.
It started, Jensen said, in the early days of Coaches vs. Cancer. Gonzaga basketball Coach Mark Few and his wife, Marcy, would host a fundraiser at the Davenport Hotel. ESPN commentators sometimes served as emcees for the event, which would include a black-tie dinner, rounds of golf and attendance by lots of really tall people from all around the country.
Jay Bilas, Neil Everett and Sean Farnham became regulars at the Davenport hotels. They’d come to broadcast Gonzaga games, as well as appearing at the fundraiser.
Before long the announcers began to gush on the air, Jensen said, about the Davenport’s double-stiff drinks, its spicy flatbreads and its beds. “On his Twitter feed this year at Christmas, Farnham said the number one thing he wanted was a Davenport bed.”
“It’s pretty comical, actually. When they cover Gonzaga it’s almost like a contest who can say the most about the Davenport. I’ve got videos of it. People think we’re paying them, but I’m not paying them anything. We do appreciate it. My phone just lights up every time there’s a game and these guys mention us.”
Intercollegiate athletics brings more to the Davenport than ESPN’s announcers. When WCC teams come to play the Zags, or when Pac-12 teams come to play Washington State University, they often stay at the Davenport’s hotels in Spokane – particularly the Davenport Grand, Jensen said, where suites with two king beds mean coaches can save money by packing in their large athletes a few to a room.
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