Spokane will be home to the national handball championships in 2023 and 2024.
Spokane Sports announced the agreement with USA Team Handball this week to hold their next two U.S. Open and Junior National championships at the Podium, the indoor sports facility that opened last year.
“In my opinion, it’s one of the most underrated Olympic sports,” said Ashley Blake, Spokane Sports vice president.
The sport, believed to have been played in some form in ancient Greece, is most popular in Europe. It combines elements of basketball, lacrosse and water polo as two teams attempt to score goals while dribbling, passing and shooting.
The national championships bring elite competitors vying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, along with talented competitors under age 20 in the junior competition, Blake said.
“For us, it was really an opportunity to showcase a diverse sport, and really showcase the flexibility of the facility,” she said.
The Podium already owns 75,000 square feet of flooring that is compliant with USA Team Handball regulations. That will allow four courts to run simultaneously inside the venue when the championships are held in May 2023, and again the following May.
This year’s competition just wrapped up last weekend at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. Blake said Spokane Sports’ experience holding wrestling competitions, along with the opening of the new facility, made the location attractive for USA Team Handball as the site of their national championships.
“We’d love for Spokane to come out and watch the competition,” she said.
USA Team Handball Chief Executive Officer Ryan Johnson said the city and venue would be the “perfect host” for the event in a statement.
“More than just a competition, this event is an annual reunion for many in our community and is a fundamental part of the legacy of our sport,” Johnson said.
The Podium played host to the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in February, and the Spokane Public Facilities District announced last week the first in a series of planned music concerts for the venue.
Spokane Sports anticipates the handball championships will bring more than 500 athletes to the area each year, generating $1.5 million in economic impact, according to a news release.
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