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Mayor on Great Wolf: ‘(Manteca has) not reached the pinnacle’
Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum and Great Wolf Mascot Wiley the Wolf helped break ground Thursday for the $180 million Great Wolf Lodge being built in Manteca. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

Wiley the Wolf is about to become the face of Manteca’s future.

The mascot joined Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum, other dignitaries and his Great Wolf Lodge bosses Thursday to break ground on what could become the happiest place to splash around in Northern California.

The happy go lucky Wiley the Wolf will help enchant young hotel guests during a number of “dry” fun activities such as the beloved story-time often conducted with kids in pajamas surrounding the two and a half story grand fireplace in the lobby.

The $180 million resort that includes 500 rooms, an indoor waterpark, restaurants, a conference center, and a family entertainment complex is just the beginning as far as DeBrum is concerned.

The mayor noted the 10-year odyssey to secure an indoor waterpark resort that would not just provide a positive flow of new revenue out of the gate to help fund more municipal services but will also create local jobs and a way to strengthen the Manteca economy.

The high-profile location along the 120 Bypass that will showcase the largest hotel ever built in the Central Valley at one time described by Councilman Richard Silverman “as a massive billboard” for Manteca. Great Wolf’s media marketing plan to blanket Northern California will re-enforce that.

But it is the economic niche that Manteca is deliberately carving out that isn’t found elsewhere in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and even the greater Northern California megaregion with its 17 million consumers that’s the big prize Manteca’s leaders are pursuing.

More than 120 adjoining acres are being developed by the city working with developer Bill Filios as a family entertainment zone.

After the groundbreaking Filios noted the plans for the FEZ — in working with Great Wolf and other interested parties  — is being modified to pursue family friendly entertainment ventures designed to lure not just Manteca residents but those form nearby Tracy, Stockton, and Modesto. By being in the center of the submarket of 1.1 million people with Big League Dreams and Great Wolf anchoring the FEZ, the city expects to finally have the drawing power to secure private ventures from restaurants to places that offer “things to do” for families that many residents have been clamoring for.

“We have not reached the pinnacle,” DeBrum said to those gathered. “We are climbing higher.”

The resort is targeted for a mid-2020 opening.

While the city expects it to lure other attractions to Manteca, Great Wolf in itself will be impressive.

uThe 500-room hotel will be the largest in the 450-mile long Great Central Valley that stretches from Redding to Bakersfield.

uEven with a split of the first 9 cents of every 12 cents in room tax the resort generates for 25 years to help finance the project, it will be the city’s biggest source of taxes when it opens.

uWith 350 fulltime equivalent jobs — 250 fulltime and 250 part-time positions — it will be the second largest private sector employer in Manteca behind Doctors Hospital of Manteca.

uIt will employ the greatest number of construction jobs ever for a single project in Manteca by employing 1,397 people in various building phases earning $76.3 million.

uIt will give Manteca the biggest private sector year-round destination resort in the Northern San Joaquin Valley drawing 500,000 visitors a year.

uGreat Wolf will be the largest non-distribution center building in Manteca in terms of floor space coming in with just over three times the size of the 140,000-square-foot Costco store next door that is currently the largest.

The resort in Manteca is being called “the next generation” of Great Wolf resorts with its design and offerings.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email