When you have 250,000 people converging on downtown Spokane for Hoopfest, a lot goes into planning for where they can eat, drink, go to the bathroom and use their cell phones. Don't worry. Hoopfest has a plan for that.
This is the weekend thousands of people look forward to every year. Whether you're an amateur in the six and under division on court 17 or a former professional on court 42 and you're next game is on court 53 it can get confusing.
Enter Hoopfest site manager Randy Smith.
"I've been here in the beginning, and I don't know when the end is," Smith said, laughing.
Smith makes sure the 455 courts and the 50 vendors are set and as happy as possible.
"It's all logistics, trying to put all the pieces to the puzzle together at the right time," Smith said.
To put the puzzle together, Smith works with Avista, Century Link and other providers to hook vendors up with Internet and phones. More than 3000 feet of cords drape the trees to make that happen.
It gives credit card connections to retailers, Wi-Fi access to the Nike store and player info center and a high-speed connection to the medical tent.
"We connect them to the hospital so when they take their x-rays, they can get doctors looking at them," Michael Busby with Avista network operations said.
Avista helps boost Hoopfest communications as well so scores and schedules are uploaded quickly, much faster than it used to be.
"It'd probably take a couple days for the scores to [get] entered into the system. You wouldn't even know who the winners would be for awhile," Busby said.
Cell phone coverage also increased to provide service for people in the park.
"There's been years if you had a cell phone, it actually wouldn't work because there was so much traffic on the line," Smith said.
Over the years, Hoopfest has improved its logistics plan with every technological advance in preparation for this weekend.
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