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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane could pay more for Hoopfest police, medical services under proposed contract

UPDATED: Mon., June 5, 2017, 8:28 p.m.

Spokane police officers look on as players compete in the 2011 edition of Hoopfest. (J. Bart Rayniak / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane police officers look on as players compete in the 2011 edition of Hoopfest. (J. Bart Rayniak / The Spokesman-Review)

Organizers of the annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament that will envelop downtown Spokane later this month are hoping for an assist on paying for police and firefighters.

Hoopfest organizers have asked the city to cap the expenses they must pay to cover the overtime racked up by police and firefighters working the event at $67,000 for each of the next two years. The Spokane City Council was asked Monday to consider a contract that keeps in place organizers’ responsibility to pay up to 60 percent of the overtime cost but says if expenses are greater than the limit the city would foot the rest of the bill.

Matt Santangelo, Hoopfest’s executive director and former Gonzaga University point guard, said the new contract ensures the nonprofit can confidently budget its resources for the next couple of years. The agreement sets the same spending limit in both 2017 and 2018, despite an expected 6 percent increase in costs next year.

“We’ve seen a significant increase, year over year, on our costs, yet it hasn’t been lockstep with our team registration and revenue,” Santangelo said. “We’re trying to find an agreement where we, as an organization, can balance that budget, and the most important thing: having a secure event.”

The contract splits the amount that must be paid to police and fire, with each receiving up to $58,000 and $9,000, respectively, from Hoopfest in 2017 and 2018. Spokane Police Department personnel recorded 1,474 hours of overtime covering security at the 2016 event, according to figures the agency shared with the City Council, at a cost of $95,992.

Through last September, that was the largest amount of overtime spending racked up during a single event by the department, surpassing the Lilac Parade’s total of $63,856 and Bloomsday’s $55,795.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the contract during its afternoon meeting on June 19, at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.

City leaders asked Monday afternoon if the department could more aggressively target groups that don’t pay their overtime costs, including presidential candidates, in order to extend better deals to organizers of local events. The campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump racked up overtime costs of more than $100,000 on their stops in Spokane last year, but haven’t paid their bills.

“We can’t send a presidential candidate to collections?” City Councilwoman Karen Stratton asked the panel. “I think they should pay their bills.”

Carly Cortright, customer service program director for the city’s 311 service, told council members that certain political events in which participants are exercising their First Amendment rights are typically only billed up to $500 to avoid legal complications. Councilwoman Candace Mumm asked the city’s legal department to explore ways of earning repayment from the candidates.

Also new this year is a change of venue for the tournament’s elite competition and merchandise, as several attractions move from the under-construction Riverfront Park to the Bennett Block, including the center court, Hoopfest store and Toyota shootout, which allows competitors to shoot long-range jumpers for a shot at a new car.

“The rest of the stuff will stay in the park,” Santangelo said. “The southwest corner is closed to us, but we’re still using the parts that are open.”

Teams will check in at the U.S. Pavilion, which is slated to close later this year ahead of its own $14.5 million rebuild. Scores will be posted in the red wagon meadow, and concessions will still be sold in the central meadow of the park near the Clocktower, Santangelo said.

Loss of real estate for play in the Bennett Block parking lot means there will be 25 fewer courts at this year’s Hoopfest than in years past, Santangelo said.

Hoopfest weekend takes over downtown June 24 and 25. A full map of the event could be released as early as this week via the event’s smartphone app, Santangelo said.

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