Spokane became an incorporated City on Nov. 29, 1881,
encompassing 1.56 square miles.
The Spokane Chamber of Commerce was incorporated.
19xx - xxx
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Greater Spokane Sports Association
The SRSC started as a committee of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce – it was called the Greater Spokane Sports Association (GSSA). It was formed essentially as a booster club to recognize and support sports programs throughout the community while providing a link between sports and the business community.
The Joe Albi Stadium was built and opened in 1950 on the site of a U.S. Army hospital.
On Saturday, November 25, 1950, Memorial Stadium was officially presented to the city by attorney Joseph A. Albi, leader of the Athletic Round Table (ART), and dedicated by Governor Arthur Langlie. The ceremonies were prior to the kickoff of the Washington–Washington State football game (now known as the Apple Cup). The rivalry game had been absent from the city for forty years, last played in Spokane in 1910.
Nicknamed the Boone Street Barn) the Spokane Coliseum was an indoor arena in the western United States, located in Spokane, Washington. Opened in late 1954, it had a seating capacity of 5,400.
After more than a year of construction, the arena was dedicated on December 3, 1954, in a program headlined by Metropolitan Opera soprano Patrice Munsel, a Spokane native. The largest crowds in its early years were for a Catholic Mass and stage shows by Lawrence Welk and Liberace, respectively.
First Youth Award Luncheon and Banquet
In partnership with the Sports Writers and Broadcasters (SWABS), the GSSA organized the first annual Youth Awards Luncheon and Banquet. In addition, the original Hall of Fame Committee was formed in 1960 to honor athletes, coaches, and contributors who brought national and regional recognition to the area.
Hall of Fame
The first class was inducted into the Hall of Fame during half-time of the WSU/Arizona football game at Albi Stadium in 1963.
Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame
The original Hall of Fame room was built in the old Spokane Coliseum and dedicated
May 15, 1965.
First Sports Commission
The GSSA created a business plan in 1989 to recruit and attract sports events with the goal of generating an economic impact (first Sports Commission of its kind in the State). “Momentum” (a private economic develop program) funded the plan that resulted in the hiring of staff and provided marketing monies. Momentum funding initiated what is the current Spokane Sports mission in sports development. The GSSA was managed with one full time and one part time employee and a 40-member board.
Anticipating the need for an independent corporate structure for future fundraising efforts, the GSSA filed for a 501(c)(3) non-profit designation in 1989.
The First Sports Commission was established in the Northwestern states.
Discussions for a new arena to replace the Spokane Coliseum began. One factor that led to the idea included several damages to the arena, which had a leaking roof and rusted boilers. Another major issue was the size of Spokane Coliseum, which had then recently lost potential bookings from ZZ Top and New Kids on the Block due to its small size; Spokane was losing concert dates to larger venues in Pullman and Boise.
In October of 1992, Eric Sawyer is hired as the CEO.
IAll financial activities were rolled into the corporation and the
40-member board was given governance. Until that time, the GSSA was working as a committee of the Chamber.
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
The GSSA serves on SEACAB Committee with the objective to develop a plan to replace the Spokane Coliseum with a new Arena. Following voter approval, construction starts for a new Arena.
The GSSA developed an affiliation agreement with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which provided administrative support, office space, and pass-through funding from their lodging tax sources (the GSSA relocated to the CVB offices).
That same year, the GSSA lobbied for the development of a 1% rental car tax for amateur sports.
It was passed by the Spokane County Commissions, which replaced Momentum funding as it was being phased out.
The GSSA restructured and became the Spokane Regional Sports Commission (SRSC). The goal was to develop a more efficient and effective board (from 40 to 15 members), strengthen the organization for additional public funding, and reflect the identity that was emerging in the industry nationwide (Sports Commissions).
SRSC works with Spokane County to study the development of Planets Ferry Sports Complex. A private fundraising effort begins, and early construction of the project starts. SRSC submits grants to the State of WA and City of Spokane Valley to complete the final phase of the project.
The new Spokane Arena opens and hosts its first major NCAA event, the D1 Women’s Volleyball Championships, and sets an attendance record.
According to a study commissioned in 1997 by the Spokane City Parks Foundation and the Athletic Round Table, the Spokane area needs at least 26 new courts, 16 of those immediately, to meet the demand for court space during peak periods. If we do nothing, participation levels will not be able to increase. There isn’t any more space available for playing, the study said. The study found that between 1990 and 1996, the number of youth volleyball teams jumped to 102 from just 10. The number of youth basketball teams over that same time period, meanwhile, jumped to 147 from 22.
The SRSC contracts for lodging tax funding from the City of Spokane and Spokane County. Until that time, lodging tax funds where a pass-through by affiliation agreement with the CVB.
The Chamber, CVB, SRSC, EDC, and numerous other community development agencies relocate into the SRBC Building. The original goal was to establish a “shared-tenant” building and explore collaborative opportunities in areas such as administration, news bureau, IT, etc. The SRSC’s staff of 2 moves onto the 3rd floor and shares space with the CVB per affiliation agreement. With additional lodging tax funding approval, the SRSC creates another staff position for sports marketing.
SRSC Moves into private offices on the 5th floor and cancels its affiliation agreement with the CVB. This was the result of SRSC growth and a need to become independent of the CVB to advance our mission. Tension between the CVB and SRSC was growing as public funding sources became increasingly competitive to secure. If was clear that additional funding sources needed to be identified to support both organizations. As a result, discussions to form the current Tourism Promotion Area started.
Convention Center Expansion
The legislative authority to form a Tourism Promotion Areas (TPA) is created and approved through inter-local agreements.
The SRSC develops a business plan that seeks TPA funding to expand staff, create more effective
marketing, and advance the SRSC’s impact in economic development through sports.
TPA approves the SRSC’s funding proposal and as a result, two new staff positions where created with a focus on providing more effective event management services, communication, and marketing.
Partners with Spokane Parks Department
SRSC partners with Spokane Parks Department in a feasibility study to develop the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex. Through a ballot measure, the Parks Board asks citizens to approve the sale of excess park property to help finance the project. SRSC takes the lead on the campaign and is approved by the voters.
SRSC relocates to the Iron Bridge Office Campus to establish additional office and meeting space.
Dwight Merkel hosts its first event. Planning and fundraising begin to develop a BMX Park at the Merkel site.
A committee comprised of City, County, PFD, and interested stakeholders is formed by the SRSC with the goal of developing a major multipurpose indoor sports facility – which eventually becomes The Podium.
2012 Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing
First-ever milestone event.
SRSC drops ‘Regional’ from its name and becomes Spokane Sports Commission. This was part of an overall branding strategy to simplify the logo and subsequent marketing strategies.
Spokane Sports Commission was honored with “Sports Commission of the Year” by the National Association of Sports Commissions. SC was Recognized for making its community a sports destination by hosting more than 58 events in 2018, including 13 national and two international events. Those events drew 46,000 athletes, generated 59,000 hotel-room nights, and resulted in an economic impact of more than $58 million.
Hosted USA Judo Junior Olympics.
SSC continues its rebranding, dropping ‘Commission’ from its’ name and simply becomes ‘Spokane Sports.’
Selected as Sports Commission of The Year for our peers in 2019.
In December, Spokane Sports moves into the downtown offices at West North River Drive.
Spokane Sports proposes an increase in the shared TPA annual collections from 22% to 28%, which is supported and recommended to the County Commissioners starting with the 2020 program year.
Ground Breaking for The Podium in December
2019 Roller Sports National Championships; huge financial undertaking and logistics effort to secure the event. Undermining National Office and hotel partner put us in a compromising position. The event was banner–over 30 days with proven history from other cities; but we took a few blows that hurt our integrity as an organization.
SSC partners with Visit Spokane to lobby the State Legislature to increase the TPA from $2/night to a max of $5/night. The Bill passed Legislature and is signed into law by the Governor.
COVID essentially closes down all sporting events in March. Spokane Sports develops a strategy to maintain the team through the pandemic and avoid layoffs. The Board supports utilizing reserve funds and pursues all possible federal recovery funds to ensure the team stays employed and continues marketing to attract events once COVID restrictions are raised.
In December, the first event is staged in the Podium.
Host the 2022 USA Track & Field Indoor Championships. This is the most complex event Spokane Sports has hosted and included an NBC broadcast, and brought notoriety with it.
The Podium opens with a schedule of 13 track & field events. A World Record is established in women’s
Medley. The first track season culminates with the USATF National Indoor Championships.
Eric Sawyer retires as CEO of Spokane Sports and is not seen until he is discovered flyfishing a backcountry stream in Iceland.