Thousands of college basketball fans will be heading for central Iowa next month as Des Moines is one of the hosts of the regional N-C-double-A women’s tournament. Chris Connolly, general manager of the Iowa Events Center, says they’re still calculating the projected economic impact of bringing March Madness to the capitol city. “The event itself is absolutely huge,” Connolly says. “As far as predicting the number of people coming through, it’s really hard to predict at this time because we won’t know what teams will play here. We do know, the caliber of teams coming in will be phenomenal and that’s a great selling point.” The three other cities hosting regional tournaments are: Fresno, California; Kingston, Rhode Island; and Raleigh, North Carolina. Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena hosted the the first- and second-round games of the N-C-A-A women’s tourney in 2008 and had the highest attendance out of all eight sites. This time around, it’ll be the Sweet 16 and Final Eight rounds being held in central Iowa.
“Some of the likely teams that will be here in Des Moines, those folks travel, your Tennessees, your Yukons, your Baylors, even Notre Dame isn’t too far away,” Connolly says. “The economic impact will be huge. We’ll have people coming in from out of town, buying tickets, staying in the hotels, eating in our restaurants, it’ll be huge.” Pairings will be announced on March 12th and the games in Des Moines are scheduled for March 24th and 26th. “For the two sessions, which would actually be three games, the ticket packages are $45 for seats on the sides and $25 for seats in the end zones,” Connolly says. “That’s a great deal for three games of that caliber.” The regional champion will advance to the Final Four to be held in Denver, Colorado.
(by Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)