It’s safe to say that Spokane, Wash., will be ready July 28-30 when NASO comes calling with its annual Sports Officiating Summit, with the theme of “Training in Transition.”
Because for the city’s 30-year-old Spokane Sports Commission (SSC), rolling out the red carpet for a wide range of sports-related events of all sizes is what it does best.
The hundreds of officials who will descend on eastern Washington will receive first-class treatment just like the participants in the basketball, cross country, volleyball, wrestling, roller sports, judo, and many other sporting events the city has hosted in the past decade, according to SSC Director of Sports Development Ashley Blake.
“We feel that officials are a primary pillar in the success of any sporting event,” Blake said. “We feel that they are an underappreciated demographic and we always try to make them feel welcome and well accommodated.”
The not-for-profit SSC was created in 1989 as an economic development organization responsible for recruiting, retaining and facilitating sports for the greater Spokane region, which is home to more than 700,000 people. The commission is funded by both a hotel and a rental car tax and has a permanent staff that focuses on drawing major sporting events to the area.
In 2018 alone, Spokane attracted more than 150,000 people to the championships the SSC facilitated.
“We use our organizational skills and then connect with a strong grassroots network of local clubs to bring people in,” Blake said.
At the center of the 2019 NASO Summit will be the 716-room Davenport Grand Hotel, which will be ground zero for the event. Participants will fly into Spokane International Airport, which is a destination for all major airlines. Seventeen major cities fly directly into Spokane.
Blake said making life easier for the participants is the main goal.
“We will work up to five years on getting everything ready for a particular event, right up until that coin flip,” said Blake, “because we know how invested people are in these events. These are powerful events and we want to make sure that everyone’s expectations are met and exceeded.”
As part of the NASO event, the SSC will have several staff members on the ground and it will provide a limited number of attendance scholarships for local officials.
The siting of the 2019 Summit in Washington is important to NASO, as in 2017, the Washington Officials Association (WOA) and NASO signed a five-year agreement that enrolled all 5,000 of the state’s member officials into NASO. Attendance is expected to be high, building off NASO’s record-setting 2018 Summit in New Orleans.
Blake and the SSC will make sure everything is ready.
“It’s very rewarding for us when we see an event go off well,” she said.