The city of Stockton has a long history of hockey being played. The San Joaquin County fairground, located in Stockton, was the first facility to have an ice rink for public use. In 1970, the fairgrounds stopped operations of the ice rink and the Oak Park Ice Arena was opened. Oak Park was a huge step up for hockey players, featuring an 85 x 200 feet ice rink, seating for 350 spectators, and a full service pro shop.
One of the oldest hockey clubs in Stockton is the Stockton Colts. The Colts have played hockey in Stockton for over 50 years and saw the transition between the fairgrounds and Oak Park Ice Arena. As of 2015, the Colts have five teams in their club: two squirt teams, pee wee, bantam, and high school.
Oak Park Ice Arena plays host to not only youth hockey practices, league games, and tournaments, it also has BNHL Adult Hockey on Monday nights, Stockton Oldtimers on Tuesday nights, learn to skate nights, figure freestyle, public skate nights and much more. The Oak Park calendar has events going on seven days a week, with the popularity of hockey growing every day. Oak Park Ice Arena calendar can be found here.
In 2005, Stockton welcomed the ECHL and was thrilled to have the Stockton Thunder come to a town where youth hockey is so popular; it also gave excitement for the new Stockton Arena to open. The fans poured into the arena making a connection with the Thunder and it created a very community involved atmosphere. The Thunder hosted events at the arena to give back to the community, such as: Thunder Goes Pink, raising approximately $300,000 for breast cancer; and the Teddy Bear Toss, fans threw stuffed animals on the ice and they were donated and disbursed to children through the United Way.
With the American Hockey League now in Stockton, community outreach is expected to meet or exceed the standard that the Thunder started. The culture of hockey is alive and well and is expected to keep growing due to the AHL coming to town.