Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hoopfest director Rick Steltenpohl will step down after this year

The 25th-annual Hoopfest will be the last for executive director Rick Steltenpohl. (Colin Mulvany)

Hoopfest executive director Rick Steltenpohl said Wednesday he will step down later this year after the basketball tournament’s 25th iteration.

Along with Hoopfest events project manager Aaron Magner, Steltenpohl said he plans to found a nationwide company specializing in events like Spokane’s successful 3-on-3 tournament.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Steltenpohl, who informed the Hoopfest board of his plans last week.

However, he and Magner plan to see Hoopfest through what he says will be an exciting and memorable event on June 28-29.

The 50-year-old Steltenpohl has resigned from Hoopfest once before, leaving after the 2005 event to become part owner of Northwest Sports and Entertainment, a marketing concern based in Phoenix.

Steltenpohl returned the following year beause of family considerations, then reclaimed his position for the 2007 event when his successor, Brady Crook, resigned to accept a fund-raising position with Washington State University.

He’s been in charge ever since, overseeing the event’s growth to about 27,000 players and 7,000 teams, who play on 450 courts spread across the downtown area.

An economic-impact survey conducted in 2006 estimated the event brings about $38 million into the regional economy.

But it’s not about the numbers, said Steltenpohl, who has played in every Hoopfest, including the one he didn’t supervise.

“It’s meant everything to me,” Steltenpohl said. “The whole Spokane community, the volunteerism, the downtown community opening their doors.”

Steltenpohl said he plans to stay well beyond this year’s event to ensure a smooth transition to a new leadership team.

“One of things that’s surprising is how popular it is with people outside of basketball,” Steltenpohl said.