Preparations Ramp-Up for NCAA Basketball Tourney in Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- In just over a week, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will be in Des Moines but there is still  plenty of work to do before tip-off.

“We’ve been in meetings every day to discuss logistical issues,” said Adam Flack, with the Iowa Event Center.

They are working on having proper traffic signage up, so out-of-towners can navigate Des Moines.

There are still a ton of physical things that need to be done before the games start too. Banners need to be hung, signage inside and outside of the arena needs to go up, and they even need to install a new floor.

The problem is there is not enough time in the day. Right now, the Iowa Events Center is the busiest it has ever been.

“In these seven weeks, we’ve only had seven days without an event,” said Chris Connolly, general manager of the Iowa Event Center.

Support crews are working around the clock to get the venue ready. A typical employee, on average, will work 20-25 hours in a normal stretch but over this stretch it’s common they will work over 60.

The time crunch may seem like a daunting task for most crews but the staff started planning for this a year ago.

It started with a trip to Omaha. In that trip, they were able to see how a crew ran an opening round site.

“The trip to Omaha was extremely important,” said Flack. “We got to see everything from a practice day, to how they involved the community.”

Another great learning experience was hosting the NCAA Wrestling tournament in 2013.

“We learned a lot about not only preparing the arena but traffic flow. You need to be able to communicate effectively about traffic and events outside of the game,” said Flack.

A unique element of the Des Moines hosting site will be the addition of a free viewing area called the Fan Zone. It will be in HyVee Hall and it’s free and open to public. Anyone can attend the event and you do not need a ticket. Inside, there will be multiple televisions to watch the game, games for kids, food, and beverages.

One of the biggest benefits of the Fan Zone is it will be the closest place to purchase alcohol. The NCAA does not allow the sale of alcohol during an event inside the venue.

The original release of tickets for the NCAA Tournament in at Wells Fargo Arena has already sold out but fans can purchase them on the NCAA Ticket Exchange. The NCAA also may release more tickets prior to the event -- if you'd like to get on the waiting list to be notified when/if those tickets go on sale click here.