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Manteca Visitors Center now open
Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Linda Abeldt, left, and administrative assistant Yvonne Torres in the lobby of the Manteca Visitors Center that opens today at the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The Central Valley’s only visitor’ center between Merced and Sacramento officially opens today in Manteca.

The 1,800-square-foot location on the Grove Street entrance that leads to the water fountain roundabout at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It also serves as the new offices for the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau. The CVB – in addition to events they already stage in Manteca such as the Crossroads Street Fair, the Northern California Senior Games, Women’s Connection, and the Best of Manteca among others – will also coordinate community-style events for Orchard Valley as well as the Lifestyle Outlets at Manteca that are opening this spring in the same retail complex.

The visitors’ center serves as a point for visitors and tourists to get information on Manteca and the surrounding areas as well as Yosemite and various other destinations in California. The CVB is also serving as a clearing house for many non-profit Manteca events and is even selling tickets for organizations that request it. There is no charge for the service although there might be a slight fee when the CVB rolls out its on-line ticket purchasing for Manteca events.

If there was ever a doubt that the visitors’ center would draw tourists and visitors that ended last Sunday when volunteers were helping move the CVB from its old location inside Manteca Bowl and setting up the office.

The CVB had four people drop by during the short time the doors were open for the move. They were shoppers on their way to and from Bass Pro Shops who were looking for information on the area including on Yosemite.

CVB Executive Director Linda Abeldt said Manteca is emerging as a destination thanks to Bass Pro Shops that lured more than 2 million visitors in 2009. She noted tournaments booked every weekend for out-of-town teams at Big League Dreams just a mile away has increased visitors to Manteca. She added that the lifestyle outlets opening this spring along with the Hampton Inn will increase the drawing power of Manteca as a place people will either spend a day or overnight.

“You’ve got people already who spend the night while they are playing at BLD,” Abledt said. “They shop and eat between games.”

Bass Pro in combination with the outlets and the 16-screen Kerasotes Showplace Theatre boasting California’s first all digital screenings should make Manteca an even stronger draw, according to Abeldt. She expects people vacationing in Northern California who may opt to go to Yosemite may make Manteca a stopping point thanks primarily to Bass Pro Shops. Plans to have as many as eight restaurants at Orchard Valley plus the outlets will only increase the appeal for tourists and group bus operators.

“Before the only thing we could really offer people was to try and get them to stop here on the way to Yosemite to eat and take a look at our murals and maybe wine taste at Delicato’s,” Abeldt said. “Now we’ll have some big attractions.”

Bass Pro Shops also will help Manteca strengthen its connections with the Delta and could make it possible for people accessing the southeast portion of the 1,000 miles of  waterways to stay in Manteca or at least use it as a jumping off point after stopping at Bass Pro Shops.

The staff and volunteers make it possible for the seven-day-a-week operations.

CVB guides coordinator Donna Shannon is in charge of the volunteers.

Abeldt said they are looking for people who are outgoing and want to share their love of Manteca with others who can work four-hour shifts.

For more information contact the CVB at 823-7229 or drop by the location at 1422 Grove St.