Stava, SPU Gear Up For 2022 Fall Championships Festival
The Seattle Pacific University staff, led by athletic director Jackson Stava, and the Seattle Sports Commission, worked for over a year on the successful bid for the 2022 Fall Championships Festival.
The Seattle Pacific University staff, led by athletic director Jackson Stava, and the Seattle Sports Commission, worked for over a year on the successful bid for the 2022 Fall Championships Festival.

Sunday, November 1, 2020
by Kaho Akau, GNAC Media Relations Assistant

SEATTLE – For the first time ever, an NCAA Division II Championships Festival will take place west of the Rocky Mountains.

Seattle Pacific University will host the 2022 NCAA Division II Fall Championships Festival, as announced by the NCAA on Oct. 14. It marks the first festival of its kind to be hosted in the West. Prior to Seattle Pacific’s selection, the farthest west that any championships festival was held at was in May of 2016 when Metro State hosted the spring festival in Denver.

“When you put in a bid, you’re never sure what it’s going to look like. You’re never sure what the outcome is going to be,” said Seattle Pacific athletic director Jackson Stava. “We said, ‘Let’s give the West Coast a chance to be a part of this,’ and I certainly think that’s part of why we got the bid.”

Several factors and moving pieces contributed to the NCAA accepting the Falcons’ bid. Working closely with the Seattle Sports Commission, which he is a member of, Stava and his staff in the Seattle Pacific athletic department had a lot of casual conversations to begin the bid process. What would it all look like? Would we get enough support? Do we have the facilities to pull this off?

It was all just a dream at first. But when the bid cycle opened up, that dream became a little more real.

“We want to host stuff,” Stava said about Seattle Pacific and the Seattle Sports Commission. “In my time as the athletic director, we’ve always been looking for ways to advance that idea. It’s a great opportunity to showcase not only our institution but the GNAC and our region as well.”

With tremendous support from the city, what was once a dream started to come to fruition.

Connections with hotels and local government agencies had to be made before Seattle Pacific and the Seattle Sports Commission put in the bid. Through the partnerships that they have built and the relationships that they have in the greater Seattle sports community, they were able to get the support that they needed.

“We are looking forward to having our student-athletes back in competition mode,” said Seattle Sports Commission president Beth Knox. “Hosting the 2022 NCAA Division II Fall Championships Festival is part of our vision to make the greater Seattle region a world-class sports market. We have a great partner in SPU, excellent venues, spectacular attractions and a passionate sports community. Combined, these elements contribute to an outstanding experience for the student-athletes.”

The NCAA will finalize all of the hotel contracts but Stava and his staff have already been in touch with three hotels in downtown Seattle that are interested in housing student-athletes and coaches. Still in the infancy of it all is Stava’s vision to have all of the participants in hotels in the south Lake Union area of downtown.

“I’m thankful for a whole lot of people who helped us figure it all out,” Stava said. “There are so many moving parts so putting in a bid was not easy. It’s our hope that the students will be close together in the heart of Seattle so they can experience all of the fun things that come with being in that part of town.”

Stava’s main focus is to allow student-athletes to experience the uniqueness of Seattle. Plans for the festival’s opening and closing ceremonies are still in the works but a lot of possible sites are near the waterfront. The NCAA is also expected to provide student-athlete lounges and study spaces to go with career development opportunities to connect the athletes with industry professionals in Seattle.

“We want it to be somewhere that highlights what Seattle has to offer,” he said about the ceremonies. “The NCAA does a heck of a job with festivities. We’re also hoping to give the students an opportunity to network professionally while they’re here instead of just having the athlete experience.”

More than 1,500 student-athletes, coaches and spectators are expected to be in attendance, spread out across different venues. The women’s volleyball championship will be hosted at Seattle Pacific’s Royal Brougham Pavilion while the men’s and women’s soccer championships will take place at the Falcons’ Interbay Stadium. The women’s field hockey championship will be played at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.

The men’s and women’s cross country national meet will be held at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place. Although most of the meet will be run on park grounds, a good portion of the races run through the Chambers Bay golf course’s driving range and practice facility. Not only will the student-athletes get to run on a golf course that hosted the 2015 U.S. Open, but they will also be running less than 50 yards from the beautiful Puget Sound.

With the aforementioned attendance expected for these national championship events, Seattle Pacific will need all hands on deck. There will need to be professional help to orchestrate the events, but there will also need to be a lot of volunteers for jobs such as ticketing, concessions, game operations, shagging soccer balls, rolling volleyballs, handing out medals and everything else that comes with hosting an event of this caliber.

“There’s going to be a lot of folks,” Stava said. “Division I and Division III don’t do this. This is what is special about Division II. This could be something that may never happen again in my professional career, so if folks are interested, we will have a way to connect with them soon.”

One thing that Stava is pleased with so far, which came as no surprise, is the support that he is receiving from his colleagues around the GNAC. A handful of athletic directors, sports information directors and other staff members in the conference have already reached out and offered up their staff to help Seattle Pacific put on a good show.

“The day we got the bid, I heard a lot of, ‘Our staff will be there to help with this,’” he said. “That was something that I knew would be true because of the camaraderie in this conference.”

Seattle has unique landmarks to share with student-athletes, coaches and fans who are not familiar with the Pacific Northwest. There will be people coming to the festival who have never been to the region, let alone the state.

From the Seattle Space Needle down to Pike Place Market and the Puget Sound, teams will be able to soak in the culture that comes with visiting Seattle. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the revenue from a large event like this will support the university as well as a lot of local businesses and organizations.

“We were trying to get all of these pieces together to make sure that we had the facilities to host this event here in Seattle because we knew that we would be able to give the student-athletes an incredible experience,” he said. “There’s a lot of cool things that we have here that you just can’t find anywhere else in the country.”

The championship festival is set to take place during the last week of November and the first week of December 2022. Still more than two years away, planning for the festival started before the bid process began. It took an army of people to get those plans to where they are today. That level of support will be needed for what will end up being a three yearlong commitment.

“This bid is not reflective of me but of Seattle Pacific athletics and our institution,” he said. “I’m so grateful to the support of my staff and the Seattle Sports Commission in this endeavor. We really do believe that we’re going to put on a first-class event. We get to show off Seattle, the GNAC and certainly Seattle Pacific to the rest of the country in 2022.”