March Madness gets an early start in NCAA Division II basketball and in a place you might not expect. Bartlesville is hosting the Lonestar Conference Championship. The News On 6's Steve Berg reports while you may not have heard of the conference, you probably know some of the teams.
Northeastern State from Tahlequah and Southeastern and Southwestern Oklahoma State are in the conference. In all, eight men's teams and eight women's teams are turning Bartlesville into Basketville.
"We've had some media people in, some athletic directors from some schools that have not been here before. And we're walking them through the facility and all and I've overheard them say, is this a high school gym? Is this where the high school plays?" said Bartlesville Sports Commissioner Bob Pomeroy.
Bob Pomeroy is the co-chairman of the Bartlesville Sports Commission that was created less than a year ago, in part to promote the brand-new fieldhouse at Bartlesville High School, which proved to be an easy sell with Lonestar's selection committee.
"They were just blown away. And they saw this facility, and they just said well that's nicer than any of our teams are playing in. They really got excited," said Bob Pomeroy.
They beat out 31 other cities, even college-level facilities, on their first attempt to market the gym to an outside group.
"One for one. We'll see how it works out, but we're excited, and I know our community is excited," said Bartlesville Sports Commissioner Tim Bart.
Co-chairman Tim Bart says the whole town gets some net worth.
"Upwards of $750,000 is estimated this week we'll bring in for hotel and restaurants," said Tim Bart.
"The hotels are gonna be full," said Bob Pomeroy.
Pomeroy says even they were surprised by the support they got, considering Bartlesville was the northernmost choice for the conference.
"Even from the schools in south Texas, which has a long way to travel to get up here. Even they thought that Bartlesville was the best place to have this," said Bob Pomeroy.
Friday is News On 6 night at the Lonestar Tournament. Sports Anchor John Holcomb will be at the tailgate party outside the fieldhouse from 4:30 to 6:00.