Spokane broke in its new, world-class sports facility, called The Podium, on Dec. 11 with the Spokane Invitational, an indoor track-and-field event featuring more than 700 athletes from Washington and elsewhere. But the multi-purpose venue won’t just be for competition; event planners will be able to utilize several areas of the facility for their events — depending on the time of year.
The Podium, which was 10 years in the making, is first and foremost a sports venue. “We wanted something that was sort of iconic and unique for Spokane,” said Eric Sawyer, president and CEO of Spokane Sports, which oversees The Podium and other venues. “That’s why we decided to go with the [indoor] track. … The demand is so great on the West Coast” for indoor track facilities, he said, that “it was kind of a no-brainer.”
This isn’t any old field house, though. The Podium has a state-of-the-art, 200-meter, 6-lane indoor hydraulic banked track, which means both ends of the track rise to specific angles of embankment allowing athletes to make the tight turns required on an indoor track. This feature, and a 60-meter straight practice track, allow the facility to play host to not only local high school meets, but also college, national, and international competitions.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 fans will be able to watch the competitions, whatever those might be. When track season ends, the venue’s staff can change the flooring surface to accommodate 16 volleyball courts, nine basketball courts, 21 wrestling mats, or a gymnastics competition setup. Already on the books for 2022 are the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in February, the USA Karate National Championships during the summer, and the Association of Chief Executives for Sport (ACES) conference, among others.
More Than Sports
The Podium may have opened with the indoor track-and-field meet it was built to host, but the venue’s operators are planning for a variety of non-sporting events to take place there. The 75,000-square-foot competition floor can be covered and used to host a vendor showcase, for example, said Cherie’ Gwinn, director of events and community engagement at Spokane Sports. Depending on the event’s size, that space can host concerts, graduations, trade shows, and opening and closing events for a larger conference that also may be using the Spokane Convention Center, which is just a short walk away from The Podium. The event floor can accommodate 396 10-by-10 booths, she said, and 4,800 standing occupants.
Other spaces in the building lend themselves to other types of events, from a reception or dinner in the 13,022-square-foot concourse with floor-to-ceiling windows to a cocktail party on the 3,830-square-foot outdoor patio. Both spaces come with impressive views of downtown Spokane and the 100-acre Riverfront Park, site of the 1974 World’s Fair and home of Spokane Falls — the largest urban waterfall in the country. The venue also has 1,628-square-foot multipurpose room and other meetings rooms.
Sports & Entertainment District
The Podium sits next door to Spokane Arena, a concert and sports facility with its own meeting spaces, and across the street from the upcoming Downtown Spokane Stadium, a new outdoor soccer and football stadium that broke ground in early December with plans to open in 2023.
The Podium — and all the possibilities at nearby businesses that also can host events — “opens the door” for planners who want to find creative ways to hold their events, Gwinn said, and not give attendees “the usual convention center walls.”
“Instead of being stuck in maybe a classroom setting, you can be a little bit more active, more agile, more flexible and creative in how you use space,” she said. “That’s something I look forward to when I go to conferences.”
To start your event adventure in Spokane, go to visitspokane.com.