Players and fans arriving in Moline for Missouri Valley Conference Tournament

MOLINE, Illinois -- Teams are arriving in Moline by plane and by bus for the Missouri Valley Conference Women's Basketball Tournament.

The tournament officially tips off on Thursday, March 9, 2017, and runs through Sunday at the iWireless Center. Teams from Southern Illinois, Bradley, Illinois State, Evansville, Indiana State, Loyola, Northern Iowa, Missouri State, Wichita State, and Drake will be competing.

This will be the second year Moline has hosted the conference tournament. In 2016, it brought roughly 12,000 fans to town.

Wednesday, downtown businesses were eagerly anticipating their arrival.

"It'll be pretty good, especially since it's our slow season right now," said Kim Graap, bar manager at TGI Fridays.

Graap said several teams had already made reservations to eat dinner at the restaurant during their stay.

Last year, some out-of-town fans were also able to visit the John Deere Pavilion between games and walk along the riverfront.

"It's a great opportunity with these teams from all over the Midwest that are coming through that normally wouldn't be here on a regular basis, so it gives them the opportunity to come through and see what we have to offer," added Kristen Veto, a special events coordinator with John Deere attractions.

Tournament organizers are expecting to see an even bigger turnout this year because Drake is currently ranked #20 in the nation.

The first game tips off at 4 p.m. on Thursday between Illinois State and Indiana State.