Before being considered in the race to host an event such as the South Central Regional baskcetball championships, bids must be turned in. And every bid must come complete with proof that 120 double-double, non-smoking hotel rooms are available. And that’s just for the traveling parties.

With traveling fans included, the number of hotel rooms reserved in Stephenville for this weekend’s playoffs could exceed the 300-mark.

“An event such as this is a great boost to the local economy,” said Treva Thompson, director of marketing and tourism for the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great opportunity for our businesses have so many people in town. Inevitably, when people visit, they spend money while they’re here.”

An employee at Texan Inn says the hotel is booked up through the tournament, thanks to a large contingency of fans from Kansas.

Other hotels are also feeling the effects of the regional tournament. Both the Comfort Inn and Hampton Inn report limited availability of rooms, and expect to be completely booked by the weekend. A similar report came from Days Inn.

“I would assume it has to be perfect timing for the local economy,” Reisman said. “Spring breaks hits, and a very significant part of the population leaves town. The timing of this event allows the city to replace part of that group with travelers, some of which could be here up to four or five days.”

In addition to hotels, the restaurant industry is also expected to receive a boost this weekend. The South Central Regional Web site, provided by the Tarleton Sports Information Department, lists contact information for 17 “preferred restaurants,” six pizza parlors and 10 fast food entities to help make dining plans easier for visitors.

While Stephenville businesses open their arms to schools and travelling fans, Reisman said it is the excellent hospitality provided by local residents that sends visitors away with nothing but positive feelings about their experience here.

“The people here are so genuine and hospitable,” Reisman said. “We are very proud of Stephenville - that’s why we call it the City of Champions - and we can’t wait to share both the City and the University with our guests.”

The conclusion of this four-part series will be published in the Sunday edition of the Empire-Tribune. The E-T will give fans a close-up look at the major undertaking of game-time management at an NCAA championship event.