SPOKANE, Wash. – All day Saturday, The Podium stayed full with thousands of athletes from all over the country competing in the Pacific Northwest Qualifier, a USA volleyball tournament.
The PNQ is back in full force, looking more normal compared to the last year. Director April Stark said there was no tournament in 2020 and last year was much smaller.
This year, though, PNQ is spread out over four different venues compared to the regular three at the convention center, the Hub, and at Eastern Washington University. It has a new place for volleyball players to compete: The Podium.
“This year we’re actually over 700 teams which we’ve never had. Having the podium and something new and exciting, it was kind of fun to walk in here today, see all the kids and everyone coming back and feeling normal again as much as you can, I guess,” Stark said.
Downtown Spokane saw more people on its streets this weekend. The hotels are full both with volleyball and college basketball players.
The NCAA regional tournament is also taking place this weekend where college teams competed in the Sweet 16 on Friday and will compete in the Elite Eight Sunday.
With these two big events happening in the hub of downtown, it’s bringing in a lot of business for local places.
“Being next to the arena definitely has given us more experience and a leg up on what to expect. We just kind of roll with it. our staff, they’ve been with us for a long time as well. That makes it easy, they know what to expect from certain crowds,” said Steven Barclay, the general manager of The Viking.
PNQ hasn’t been played in the Podium before since it just opened a few months ago. Because of the new location, it’s boosting even more business for The Viking.
“We usually didn’t typically get a lot of business from that because it was a little further away from central Spokane. Now that’s basically right next door, we’re expecting big crowds from that, too. All weekend should be busy for us,” Barclay said.
Here’s how much each event is bringing in, according to Spokane Sports:
NCAA Women’s Regional Tournament is bringing in 150 athletes with 1,250 hotel room nights. Spokane Sports expects more than 1,700 people coming from out of town to watch, which could bring in more than $4.4 million of economic impact.
For the USA volleyball Pacific Northwest Qualifier, Spokane Sports says there are roughly 9,600 athletes competing over the span of two weekends. It expects around 14,000 people visiting and booking around 15,750 hotel room nights. Over the two weekends, Spokane Sports estimates PNQ will bring in $12 million in economic impact.
“It brings so much business, and I think it brings energy, too. Then throw it on NCAA basketball, that it’s really, it’s fun you walk downtown and there’s just an energy,” Stark said.
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