Stockton expects big economic impact from hosting NCAA water polo championships

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- The NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship at the University of the Pacific was underway Thursday in Stockton.

“Our city's name and our university's name is being used across the country,” said CEO of Visit Stockton Wes Rhea.

Rhea said landing the high-profile tournament is a big deal.

“It's a sense of pride for our city,” Rhea told FOX40. “You know, we've been beat up in the past a lot. So anytime we can kind of cheerlead ourselves and say, ‘Look it, we can host this kind of fantastic event,’ it definitely sets pride not only for Stockton but for the University of Pacific.”

Putting on the tournament has been years in the making. UOP and the city beat out others to host the event.

Once it arrived, Rhea said it was even better than they imagined. UOP is ranked number two in the nation and set to play in the semifinals this weekend.

“Their playing on Saturday is something super special for us. That we didn't know three years ago when we were awarded this event that the University of Pacific would actually be playing in it and that just makes it so exciting,” Rhea said.

The tournament is bringing more than 1,000 people from as far away as Pennsylvania and across California to Stockton.

“We've never had a bad experience here,” water polo fan Chris Somple said. “We've come up and stayed at hotels. We've ate dinner here and this facility is just really nice and the campus is really nice and everyone is really friendly.”

The NCAA Water Polo Championship could bring about an economic wave to the city of Stockton.

“We've got hotels that are full, people are out dining, a lot of catering,” Rhea said. "Things are happening in our city. So there's money being spent in our community and we're super happy about that.”

According to Visit Stockton, cities that have hosted the Water Polo Championship in the past have seen more than $2 million in economic impact in their area.

"Anytime that Visit Stockton and the University of Pacific can host a national championship, a NCAA Division I national championship, it's a positive, an amazing and, actually, an exciting thing for our city,” Rhea told FOX40.

On Friday, the Pacific Tigers take on the winner of Thursday’s UC Davis and Pepperdine game.

More information on the tournament can be found here.

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