I love being able to step back and say, “Wow Spokane!” The city I grew up in is amazing, and I am so glad my wife and I chose to settle here for the rest of our lives. This past weekend was another one of those “wow” moments. WSU, a great community partner, hosted the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Spokane Arena on Thursday and Saturday. More than 33,000 passed through our arena’s turnstiles to watch the country’s best student-athletes from eight universities. The Spokane Convention Center also hosted the PNQ Volleyball Tournament with an attendance of well over 15,000. These events took place in Spokane because of investments we have made in our quality of life and facilities over the past 20 years.
It wasn’t the sheer number of attendees this weekend that ‘wowed’ me. It was the special interactions I witnessed our visitors having with our city. “This river is so amazing.” “Look at this view, you’re so lucky to live here.” I heard so many positive comments as my friends from out of town and I strolled through Riverfront Park and over the suspended bridges to the arena. They’re right. I’m lucky I live in a place with a gem like Riverfront Park. That’s why I pledge my full support to the implementation of the Riverfront Park Master Plan so that like our newly renovated arena, we can continue to attract even more admirers to the centerpiece of our city.
Speaking of the arena, I have been to more than 30 of them in the past 10 years, and I have never seen one as clean and efficiently run as the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. And I’m not the only one. NCAA officials commented this week that they have never seen a cleaner facility. Not only has the Public Facilities District bond assured us of our ability to attract these types of major events, but the use of local contractors and labor in these projects has kept many of our neighbors in jobs during this economic downtown.
This past weekend was a reminder that we live in a cool city. From the high school volleyball team singing the theme song to Frozen on the bar top at O’Doherty’s (been there, done that) to the full Davenport Hotel, fans from San Diego, Michigan, North Dakota, Boston and Seattle caught a glimpse of the place we are lucky to call home. Our investments are paying off. Yet there is even more we can do. Each time we invest in our public facilities, parks, and airport we also invest in our local businesses like hotels, bars, and restaurants. Each time we support school levies and donate few bucks on Crowdswell for small neighborhood projects, we invest in ideas and community. It’s an exciting time to live in Spokane. I can’t wait for the next big event to “wow” me.
Ben Stuckart is the president of the Spokane City Council.