The Podium Powered by STCU is gaining national recognition nearly a year after opening on the north bank of the Spokane River.
SportsTravel Magazine, a sports-related travel and event industry publication based in Los Angeles, has named the Podium the best new sports venue in the nation.
“Winning awards was not our vision when we built the Podium Powered by STCU,” Stephanie Curran, Spokane Public Facilities District CEO said in a statement. “… We never dreamed a national publication like SportsTravel magazine, and its readers would give the Podium this kind of exposure with such an outstanding award.”
SportsTravel readers voted the Podium as best new sports venue because it’s a “tremendous example” of a destination pooling its resources to attract new sporting events, Jason Gewirtz, executive editor and publisher of SportsTravel, said in an email.
“It is also being recognized because it has already shown its value in the caliber and volume of events that have been booked there in a short amount of time,” he said. “This is a case of need being met in the community and an impressive venue coming on line to fill that need.”
Gewirtz declined to reveal the number of nominations for the Podium, but mentioned it was selected as best new venue out of four other nominees, including Bell Bank Park in Mesa, Arizona; Cornerstone Sports Complex in Starkville, Mississippi; Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Tech Port Center + Arena in San Antonio, Texas.
To qualify for the best new sports venue award, nominees either had to be new or completed a significant renovation in the past year.
The venues also were required to have innovative approaches in use of space, amenities and digital offerings for attendees, in addition to attracting new sporting events, according to a Spokane Sports Commission news release.
The Podium, which hosts athletic competitions, high school graduations, concerts and community events, has a seating capacity of more than 4,200.
It’s also home to the West Coast’s only 200-meter hydraulic banked indoor track.
The 135,000-square-foot facility’s floor can be configured for 21 wrestling mats, 16 volleyball courts or nine basketball courts.
Earlier this year, the Podium hosted the 2022 USA Track & Field Indoor Championships and the 2022 USA Karate National Championships, both of which were held in Spokane for the first time.
The Podium is expected to generate more than $45 million this year in local tax revenue, according to Spokane Sports.
“That’s new money brought into our market through sports tourism,” said Ashley Blake, vice president of the Spokane Sports Commission.
The SportsTravel award will increase Spokane’s national exposure, enhancing the ability to attract even more sporting events, she said.
The Podium will host 13 indoor track and field meets from December to March of next year, boosting tourism during a typically slow travel season, Blake added.
“I think, definitely, in our first year it has exceeded our expectations as far as performance and delivering impact to the community,” Blake said of the Podium.
The Podium is operated by the Spokane Public Facilities District, while the Spokane Sports Commission oversees marketing and booking of sporting events at the venue. The Spokane PFD also operates the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane Convention Center and First Interstate Center for the Arts.
The Spokane Sports Commission is accepting the best new venue award for the Podium at the TEAMS ’22 Conference and Expo, the world’s largest conference and expo for the sporting event industry, held Oct. 24-27 in Oklahoma City.
“To get recognition on a national platform is a tremendous win,” Blake said. “The facility is a phenomenal example of collaboration.”