STOCKTON (CBS13) — In just a few days, the city of Stockton will be thrust into the national spotlight.
For the first time, Stockton will host the NCAA women’s basketball tournament that’s set to draw thousands to the city. Stockton won the bid to host the women’s sweet 16 and elite 8 in 2014 and has been preparing for this weekend ever since.
“We’ve never had an event of this magnitude here,” said Visit Stockton CEO, Wes Rhea.
Crews at the Stockton Arena have been hard at work setting the stage, from posting up signs to laying down the basketball floor with the Stockton Regional logo.
“There are only four cities across the nation hosting this level of women’s basketball this weekend, and Stockton is lucky to be one of them,” said Rhea.
The Stockton Regional will host four NCAA Women’s basketball teams: Florida state, South Carolina, Oregon State, and
Rhea expects the tournament to bring a million and a half dollars or more into the community. Host hotels including the University Plaza and the Hilton on Grand Canal Blvd are booking fast.
“We are sold out from Wednesday until they check out on Tuesday morning, so we’re very busy,” said Jean Quinata with
The owner of Bella Vista Cucina, a brand new Italian restaurant in Downtown Stockton, is excited about the foot traffic.
“I hope the teams come over, I hope the out-of-towners come over, I hope all those who are new to Stockton come see what we got for them ‘cause we got some good stuff,” said restaurant owner Rima Barkett.
There’s also a lot of Stockton pride around Oregan State Freshman Kat Tudor who graduated from St. Mary’s High School and posted “I’m coming home” on her twitter page.
“I don’t think Kat could even imagine graduating from St. Mary’s last year, playing basketball for Oregan State and returning home for the sweet 16 in front of her hometown audience,” said Rhea.
“It shows the little girls, especially in Stockton, growing up that there are these strong women coming and playing basketball, it’s fantastic,” said Stockton resident Tabitha Allen.
Tudor’s high school basketball coach, Tom Gonzales, says “to see her go to the next level, it’s exciting for us, and should be exciting for the community.”
The teams start arriving Wednesday and the first game is Saturday. Final rounds will be played Monday night.
Organizers have seen a big jump in ticket sales and are encouraging locals to come support.
“Not only to support the four teams that have made it here, but to support Stockton and to come out and show the NCAA that we can host an event of this caliber,” said Rhea.