NBA Finals put Oakland in the spotlight

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - It isn't often that the "Other City by the Bay," Oakland, gets a chance to bask in the spotlight and outshine its postcard picture neighbor.

This week, however, with the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena, Oakland has been put on the world stage as the host of the championship.

Oakland tourism officials are taking note and Oakland is showing itself off like never before.

Anywhere you turn, you'll see blue and gold Warriors colors on fans, lighting up buildings, and on flags and signs around the Bay Area.

"It's like a Super Bowl or Olympic games, huge driver of room nights. Restaurants are full, taxis full, Uber is full," said Alison Best, President and CEO of Visit Oakland.

City tourism officials say Oakland's 4,000 hotel rooms are fully booked as Cavaliers fans, Warriors fans, NBA officials and media bring the fanfare of the Finals to town.

"Over 1,000 media were credentialed. The most I think ever at an NBA final. The international buzz is unprecedented," said Best.

At Jack London Square, the Waterfront Hotel general manager Mark Everton said they are at capacity through the weekend and are even getting inquiries about rooms in the event the Warriors and Cavaliers series brings a Game 5 back to Oakland.

"We've seen a dramatic increase which is great. So a lot more activity in Oakland. A lot of hotels are full," Everton said.

Restaurants are also full. The Lake Chalet bounded onto a national stage when ESPN selected it as a site for their First Take show. The broadcasts from the restaurant at Lake Merritt brought throngs of people to Oakland, with lines that stretched down the block.

"At least 300 to 400 people by 9 o'clock for a 12:30 show. We've been... just people left and right. It's been a very eventful time for us," said De'Marcus Murphy, Manager of the Lake Chalet.

The NBA finals come at a turning of the tide for Oakland. The city is trying to show the public a different side from the crime-plagued image that has often hit the headlines.

There is a renaissance afoot as the city tries rebranding itself, with new restaurants, First Friday nightlife and other attractions.

Oakland, not as a drive-thru city, but a destination city in its own right.

"I think so many people overlook Oakland and it's like the spotlight is always on San Francisco so I think it's a good opportunity for people to see Oakland in a different light," said Amber Janae of Antioch, who was enjoying an evening out wearing a bright gold Warriors shirt.