Hoopfest tipped off in earnest on Saturday with the traditional opening ceremonies and a bit of sneakerhead frenzy, the day after a successful debut of THE ALUMNI GAME and the second annual HOPFEST at Hoopfest.
A palpable buzz was caused before the first games started on Saturday by the exclusive national pre-release of the new Nike KD9 “Premiere” sneakers. Limited quantities of the basketball shoe were sold on a first-come basis at the Hoopfest Store two weeks before their national release.
Traditional opening ceremonies kicked off the first day of games one day after a new event, THE ALUMNI GAME at Hoopfest, drew a sold-out crowd of 2,000 to the Spokane Convention Center. Gonzaga players from nearly 20 years of classes squared off in an exhibition that thrilled fans.
The fundraiser game was the brainchild of former Gonzaga players Jeremy Pargo and Dan Dickau, who pitched their idea to former Zag and current Hoopfest Executive Director Matt Santangelo. They enlisted former GU players, who agreed and came from around the globe at their own expense to play in the game.
The family-focused event included fun pregame activities in the Washington Trust Bank FanFest. The former players were generous with their time before and after the event, signing autographs for adoring fans, and clearly enjoyed being reunited. Santangelo played in the game and was pleased how it turned out.
“It feels great, but it’s not hard to hit it out of the park when you have all these guys running around here for a couple of hours and being willing to share their time and talents,” said Santangelo. “There’s so much love here for the Zag Nation and, in partnership with Hoopfest, it just seems like a great fit.”
The HOPFEST at Hoopfest afterparty kicked off right after the game, with a variety of local and regional breweries serving beverages while rap artist Lou Era and DISKjockey F3LON entertained the crowd. The Seattle Seahawks Seagals also made an appearance and will be part of the Toyota Shoot-Off event this weekend as part of the #12Tour statewide road trip.
-Authored by Jeff Bunch