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

Hoopfest to add practice courts for a little check-in Friday shoot-around

The world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament is about to get something never before offered at Hoopfest: practice.

Organizers plan to have a few courts open on June 26, which is registration check-in day, so that teams will have the chance to get a feel for Spokane’s pavement and how the ball bounces off the backboard, Hoopfest executive director Matt Santangelo said.

“This year, we are really focusing on the Friday of our event,” Santangelo said. “We’ll have some courts set up so when they come in to check in and get team packets, they can have a shoot around.”

As the roughly 7,000 teams check in from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 26, the practice courts will give teams a taste before the 26th annual competition gets real on Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28.

Santangelo said he also wanted to capture some of the excitement of the upcoming Bloomsday to remind players to register early for Hoopfest.

The fees have gone up a bit, with the cost for youth teams set at $120, adults $140 and elite $180.

“That’s a dollar a player more than last year,” Santangelo said.

However, teams have an incentive to register early because after May 11, the fee to register goes up $20 for each category.

“We’ve seen registration pick up the last couple weeks,” he said. “We just want to keep that momentum going.”

The longer teams wait to register, the less time organizers have to coordinate the event, he said.

“Registration, for us, is the first domino to fall. That sets everything in motion,” he said. “The quicker we get the numbers, the easier it is for everybody.”

Santangelo is also scrambling, as always, to register enough volunteers to make the event a success.

“Literally, on the weekend, we need about 3,000 volunteers to pull this off,” he said. “We have always appreciated the work we get from volunteers. That has always been a big part of our success. It’s a community event and it takes the community to pull it off.”

Baskets and brews

In addition to the practice courts, the other new feature for check-in Friday this year will be known as “Hop Fest,” Santangelo said.

As the teams arrive to report, they can stop at a small beer garden that will feature eight local craft breweries, music and entertainment.

Hop Fest will be set up at the corner of Post Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard.

“If you come downtown, you can shoot around or take advantage of the beer garden,” Santangelo said.