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GETTING READY: Count Down To NCAA Wrestling Tournament

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Crews are putting the finishing touches on downtown facilities as the NCAA wrestling tournament nears.

An estimated 20,000 people are expected to visit Downtown Des Moines starting Thursday to watch the best wrestlers in the nation compete for national titles.

It will take about 400 volunteers and another 400 employees to set-up, run concessions and take tickets at Wells Fargo Arena.

Officials say it’s taken nearly two years to prepare to host the tournament.

Monday volunteers installed banners at the Well and put down the wrestling mats. Across the street at Hy-Vee Hall other volunteers set up mats and big screens for the fan-fest.

“We’re in pretty good shape. Our back-up areas are almost set up, the wrestling mats are down and we’re going to finish taping those. A lot of our work now is going to be concentrated over at fan-fest,” said Ryan Ziegler with the Iowa Events Center.

With only 16,000 tickets available for each day of the tournament, those who didn’t get their tickets in time can still watch from the fan-fest area.  Inside, fans can follow the tournament action on eight big screen TV’s and play on inflatables, get autographs or take part in a wrestling clinic. Fan fest opens Wednesday night and will be open throughout the tournament.