The Iowa Stars were to be Des Moines’ first professional hockey team, and the first tenants in a brand new arena, but…
“The energy level in the crowd, it wasn’t what it could have been,” said Randy Jobst, a hockey fan from Huxley.
The Iowa Chops brought a memorable name and a more realistic approach, but…
“There wasn’t really a local connection," said Des Moines' Derek Bohlke, who attended a number of games, "and it seemed like the previous ownership group just didn’t get it.”
Let’s be real honest. The AHL has flopped, here. Twice. So why give it another try?
The difference this time is the Minnesota Wild.
“It’s kind of like the whole Iowa Cubs deal," said Jared Sealine of Des Moines. "You’re a Cubs fan and you have the Iowa Cubs here. The Minnesota Wild are just a state over.”
Proximity would be a huge improvement—for the Wild and for potential fans in Des Moines.
“A lot of people grew up with the North Stars back in the day," Jobst said, "and that was such a popular team. And the Minnesota Wild is kind of an up-and-coming team.”
But these guys are already hockey fans, and it seems the key to AHL success here will be recruiting new ones. How do you do that?
“Make it more of a closed arena,” said Jobst of cavernous Wells Fargo Arena.
“I think winning cures all,” added Bohlke.
“Obviously you’re not gonna fill the whole arena up, that’s not gonna happen," Sealine admitted, "but you get the right promotions—dollar beer night, whatever, it’s gonna be good.”
With concerts, current tenants and tournaments, Wells Fargo Arena is already in the black so hockey could just be a nice bonus. But if enough fans don’t show up, those who’ve long considered Des Moines to be the wrong town for hockey--would seem very right.