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

Number of Hoopfest teams continues to grow coming out of pandemic

Main Street is full of 3-on-3 basketball action during Hoopfest, Saturday, June 24, 2023, in downtown Spokane.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

This year’s Hoopfest will have 500 more teams than last year as the number of participants in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament continues to regain strength in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 12% jump means 4,700 teams will be ready to play in the largest such basketball tournament across the streets of downtown Spokane the weekend of June 29-30.

Hoopfest Executive Director Riley Stockton said about 6,000 teams played in the five years prior to the pandemic, which forced Hoopfest to cancel its 2020 and 2021 tournaments. Over 3,450 teams signed up in 2022 and more than 4,200 last year.

Stockton estimated the final tally to be roughly 4,750 teams. The two-day tournament tips off June 29 in downtown Spokane.

He said he’s extremely happy with the continued participation increase.

“I do feel like we are in a really, really good spot and it’s just exciting to see this kind of grow back into what it was,” said Stockton, who is in his third year as executive director.

Stockton said the majority of the growth is attributed to the event’s rise in youth participation. He said 700 to 800 more youth teams have signed up in the past two years.

He said people continue to get more comfortable in large group settings as the pandemic fades into history.

Stockton said the two-year hiatus likely knocked some Hoopfest players out of rhythm, leading to the low number of 2022 registrants. He said people forgot about “the magic of Hoopfest.”

“I think that’s very, very consistent with events all over the state and probably over the country,” Stockton said.

Bloomsday, for example, also has welcomed an increase in runners each year since 2022.

Stockton said he still needs court monitors and general volunteers but that people continue to sign up to volunteer in the final three weeks leading up to the event.

“I think we’re happy with where our volunteer numbers stand today,” he said.