Stockton: The WIN Country of California
29 Aug, 2013By: Linda Driscoll-Dobel
Softball. Baseball. Baton-twirling. Vineyards.
Stockton, traditionally part of California’s viticulture scene, has been reinventing itself as the Win Country of California. And while the vineyards, wineries and tastings continue to bring in tourism, the area has exploded onto the sports scene as well, offering an abundance of excellent facilities, as well as a mild climate that entices athletes to come and play outside.
“Stockton can surprise people,” says Tim Pasisz, sports development director for the Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We have events from February to November. Our weather is warm and we tend not to get too much rain. It’s rare that we see clouds come in.”
The Diamonds of Stockton
And under those cloudless skies, there’s plenty of action on the ball fields.
“Our bread and butter is baseball and softball,” notes Pasisz. “We always have events going.”
Stockton offers a total of nine venues featuring, among other sports facilities, fully lighted baseball and softball fields, all with restrooms and concessions. These include the following:
- Arnaiz Fields (four fields)
- Louis Park (four fields)
- McNair Fields (four fields)
- Regional Sports Complex (a 70-acre complex with four fields)
- Oak Park Softball Fields (two fields)
- Billy Hebert Field (one field)
- Bill Simoni Field (one field, on the campus of University of the Pacific)
- Klein Family Field (one field, on the campus of University of the Pacific)
- Stockton Ballpark (one field), a professional minor league facility on the waterfront that is home to the Single A Stockton Ports baseball team
“We have two very active softball organizations locally – the Grapettes and the Runnin’ Rebels – and they sometimes book fields a year or two in advance for their tournaments,” notes Pasisz. “We recently had a tournament in town with teams from all over – Australia, Nevada, Oregon, you name it.”
Stockton also played host to two collegiate baseball championships: the West Coast Conference NCAA Division 1 Championships (broadcast live on ESPN) and the California Collegiate Athletic Association Baseball Championships.
Stockton also offers a wealth of facilities through its colleges. The University of the Pacific rolls out its venues for sports use.
“We’re very lucky to have the university here,” says Pasisz.
University facilities include the following:
- Alex G. Spanos Center (a 6,150-seat arena that is home to basketball, volleyball and more)
- Brookside Field (two fields that can accommodate field hockey, soccer, lacrosse and other field sports)
- Gardemeyer Fields (two fields with lighting and parking facilities)
- Jannsen-Lagorio Multipurpose Gymnasium (a 23,732 square-foot indoor facility that can be divided into two separate areas, giving each side three volleyball courts, a regulation basketball court and three basketball hoops with keys for post and free-throw drills; the facility also includes training rooms and areas for equipment storage)
- Chris Kjeldsen Pool Complex (recently renovated, this facility includes seating, restrooms, lighting, parking and more).
In addition, Stockton’s nearby San Joaquin Delta College includes sports facilities that include a baseball field, 15-court tennis complex, two gymnasiums and a football stadium with rubberized track. In addition, the school’s June Fergusson Pool is home to the men’s and women's swimming and diving teams and men’s and women's water polo teams. It is an Olympic-size swimming pool with one-meter and three-meter springboards.
A Golfer’s Paradise
Stockton also offers a variety of golf courses. There are five 18-hole courses (Brookside Country Club, Stockton Golf & Country Club, Swenson Park Golf Course, The Reserve at Spanos Park and Van Buskirk Golf Course) and one nine-hole facility (Oakmoore Golf Course). All include restrooms and many include other amenities, including putting greens, driving ranges, executive courses, practice bunkers, concessions and more.
“Soccer is growing here too,” says Pasisz. The area is also ready to welcome soccer players of all ages and skill levels. The Stockton Soccer Complex features eight lighted fields, parking, restrooms and concessions. The university’s Gardemeyer and Brookside Fields offer soccer facilities as well. The nearby McNair Fields is a four-field soccer complex.
Grand-Slam Tennis Facilities
Looking for a place to host a tennis event? Stockton has your court. The Nelson Tennis Center (a part of University of the Pacific) has nine lighted courts with concessions, restrooms, parking and seating, as well as fencing. The facility was resurfaced in 2009 and is competition-ready. The Oak Park Tennis Center, meanwhile, offers 11 courts (10 are lighted) with seating, parking, restrooms and concessions.
Water, Water Everywhere
Stockton is a port city, and its landscape lends itself to opportunities for a variety of water sports. The Stockton Marina features over 1,300 linear feet of guest docks and has hosted everything from fishing tournaments to rowing.
“We have a great waterfront,” says Pasisz, “and it’s a fun place to explore.”
Downtown Stockton connects directly with more than 1,000 miles of California waterways and provides unprecedented opportunities for wakeboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing and personal watercraft usage year-round.
Take it Inside
Stockton’s outdoor attractions are plentiful, but this is a city whose attractions are not limited to those beneath its sunny skies. Indoor complexes abound, and those are ready for athletes as well. In fact, they’re already packing them in.
“Next year, we are hosting the U.S. Baton Twirling National Championships in our downtown arena,” notes Pasisz. “We’re looking forward to that.”
The Stockton Arena has room for 10,000 spectators and offers 20,400 square feet of space. The Stockton Indoor Sports Complex presents opportunities for roller hockey, roller derby, indoor soccer, volleyball and public skating. The San Joaquin County Fairgrounds has a variety of facilities including four buildings able to seat crowds ranging from 700 to 3,000-plus. The Stockton Civic Memorial Auditorium offers 18,000 square feet, a stage and adjacency to a large hotel.
Stockton also has three cheer and gymnastics facilities (Champion Gymnastics, Cheer Odyssey and GymStars), two bowling alleys (West Lane Bowl, with 36 lanes, and Pacific Bowl, with 32 lanes) and an ice facility (Oak Park Ice Arena).
Stockton gets the engines revving at its 99 Speedway, an official quarter-mile asphalt NASCAR track that is home to the following divisions: Western Late Model, Grand American Modifieds, Super Stocks and Bombers.
Play and Stay
Stockton has over 2,400 hotel rooms in all price points and more than 200 restaurants, from chains to independent.
“That’s a big help on those weekends when we have 100-plus softball teams in town,” says Pasisz.
Stockton is well-connected, too: 48 miles from Sacramento, 70 miles from Oakland and 83 miles from San Francisco, meaning all those airports can be used. In addition, Pasisz notes, there are multiple airport shuttles servicing the area.
“Since we’re right on I-5, we have easy access to everything in Southern California,” Pasisz adds. “People like to come in a couple of days in advance and see the sights. They can get to Reno, Los Angeles, Yosemite – there are plenty of places to explore. In addition, we’re right in the heart of the Central Valley wine area, so there are wineries to tour.”
Financial Aid for Fun Events
The Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau stands ready to help planners bring in their events. Stockton’s Sports Grants Program is available to assist with sponsorship and bid fees for sports events that will generate overnight stays in Stockton hotels.
“We’ve awarded more than $100,000 so far,” notes Pasisz. The CVB also publishes an online Sports Facilities Guide that allows planners to look through the venues available, works to establish a Passkey website for visiting teams and tournaments, negotiates room rates, helps out with welcome bags and more.
Fun Fact: Stockton is the Asparagus Capital of the World and each April brings the Asparagus Festival, where visitors can chow down on asparagus ripple ice cream and sip aspararitas. The city also features plenty of family fun, including hiking trails, laser tag, museums, a zoo, a skate park and more.
“We have so much here,” says Pasisz, “and we want people to come explore it all. We bet they’ll have a positive experience.”
To learn more about how sports can be celebrated in Stockton, go to www.visitstockton.org.