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

Hoopfest returns this weekend as tens of thousands of people converge on downtown Spokane

College mascots, from left, WSU's Butch T. Cougar, EWU's Swoop, hidden, Carroll College's Halo, U of Idaho's Joe Vandal and Spokane Indians' Otto, battle for a rebound on a Hoopfest court, Friday, June 23, 203 in Spokane's Riverfront Park.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Basketball hoops are up downtown, Riverfront Park is bustling and law enforcement is ready for the world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

On Friday, Hoopfest players and fans could be seen roaming downtown Spokane streets, enjoying their favorite food vendors at the park and checking in their teams for this weekend’s games.

Nicky Dimartino, a Gonzaga University accounting student, said he’s looking forward to getting shots up and having fun this weekend.

“It’s fun to get competitive and play basketball with your buddies on a 3-on-3 environment where there’s people from all over,” he said. “Just a cool atmosphere to be a part of and just super fun whether you win or lose.”

Justin Tucker, of Richland, will be watching his 10-year-old daughter and other family and friends play this weekend after blowing his knee out last year. He said he planned to play Hoopfest this year but was unable to recover from his MCL tear in time.

Tucker checked his daughter and other family and friends’ teams in Friday at Riverfront Park.

“I love basketball and it’s fun watching my kid play,” he said.

Fans and players should be able to enjoy the festivities under plenty of sunshine, as the National Weather Service calls for clear skies with high temperatures in the mid-80s.

Workers handling security at Hoopfest’s official store were happy with this year’s change in housing to the brick-and-mortar location on Main Avenue, an upgrade from previous years. The store can hold 60 people, but it seems that’s not enough capacity for the size of this event, as a line was already cordoned off in preparation.

Large portions of downtown were already rigged with an interconnected speaker system Friday.

Multicare’s main tent complex on Spokane Falls Boulevard and Washington Street was set up early Friday morning, though its portable X-ray machine was not yet on-site due to possible security concerns.

“You haven’t been to Hoopfest before? You’ve been to Disneyworld, right? It’s pretty much like that,” said Kevin Maloney, Multicare media relations manager, describing the thousands of people who attend the tournament.

Expect to see plenty of security and law enforcement officers downtown.

“We are well prepared to provide security for Hoopfest as we do every year,” said Julie Humphreys, Spokane Police Department spokeswoman.

Humphreys said the police presence provides access for Hoopfest attendees to contact officers directly, acts as a deterrent for criminal activity and shortens police’s response time to incidents.

She said the department counts on the community to help it make Hoopfest as safe as possible. Attendees are urged to contact police if they see suspicious items or behavior.

The department is part of a multi-agency DUI enforcement effort at Hoopfest, according to Spokane police’s Facebook page.

A mobile DUI unit will be stationed downtown with medical personnel available for blood draws, and jail personnel on hand to book offenders, the post said. Officers arrested 36 drivers on suspicion of DUI last year during Hoopfest.

Several downtown streets will be closed until 10 p.m. Sunday. Visit the “City of Spokane – Municipal Government” Facebook page for a list of closures.