The NCAA Women’s Tournament could open the doors for Des Moines' long term goal of hosting a regional men's tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Des Moines is hosting the Regional Finals, which means the winner on Monday night will advance to the Final Four in Denver. That level of competition in the city has been a long time coming.
The Wells Fargo Arena has hosted the Women’s 1st and 2nd round of the Tournament in the past, but this is the first time the city will be hosting the 3rd and 4th rounds. The arena landed the bid two years ago and organizers have been working since then to prepare to welcome thousands of fans from around the country.
Chris Connolly, the General Manager of the Iowa Events Center said all the hard work will be worth it in the end. He explained, “Our relationship with the NCAA is really strong and I think that helps put Des Moines on the map.”
The future could bring other big events, like a men’s tournament, which is something that`s been on the city`s wish list for years. And now that goal is closer than ever. The city has bid on a NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament several times in the past, only to be turned down. But this time could be different, as long as everything this weekend goes as planned.
“The real meaning of the NCAA and their sports is for the students athletes. So we want them to walk away from here saying what a great memory we had in Des Moines Iowa. Wow, we were treated like gold,” said Greg Edwards, with the Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Edwards said they've laid the groundwork by hanging welcome banners, planning police escorts for the teams and planning everything to the tee.
“A lot of people will be watching Des Moines Iowa this weekend, a lot of fans will be coming into Des Moines Iowa this weekend so it’s huge. It’s also our opportunity to really shine in front of the NCAA,” said Edwards.
Des Moines will submit a bid for a Men’s Tournaments later this year. That means the city could host the games as early as 2014. They will find out if they're chosen in the next six to eight months.