The city of Des Moines was buzzing with NCAA fever. Huge programs were coming. My nearest city would host Kentucky for the NCAA tournament. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was.
When I arrived in Des Moines Thursday night for Kentucky’s game against Stony Brook I was thrilled. I had been waiting and hoping for over a year that my team would come to my town. Walking around downtown I began to get to worry. There were not many Kentucky fans to be seen. I saw the UK team bus and watched the guys board the bus. When I got in the arena it was different than any postseason experience I have ever had (and if you read the last blog, I’ve been to several). Over 3/4 of the arena was filled with Iowa and Iowa State fans. There were several Indiana fans and a few specks of blue through out the arena.
Once the game started the Iowa and Iowa State fans in the arena began cheering for Stony Brook. When Kentucky did something exciting, I jumped out of my seat clapping and cheering. I was the only one in my section. It was a weird feeling. Luckily Kentucky started to pull away and the arena started to empty. Just a host of Kentucky fans remained to watch the Cats finish off Stony Brook.
When I arrived downtown Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to see significantly more Kentucky fans out and about. I felt like this was a good sign. I even attended the pep rally at a local bar which was a lot of fun. I met several other Kentucky fans and even one from Iowa.
Walking into the arena was again a little awkward. Most of the fans there were neutral and out to enjoy a Saturday afternoon ball game. Iowans were definitely excited about the NCAA tournament but it made for a bit of a quiet game. Unfortunately we lost but the nice thing is I had a short drive home and there was only one rude person (a Kansas fan).
Local people locked fans out of the ticket market but I assure you, next time BBN gets sent to Des Moines I urge the BBN to show up! While online ticket prices were high, tickets were easily available on the street for cheap — this will be my lesson for next time!
Des Moines itself was an excellent host. There are several hotels within easy walking distance to the arena, better than most cities I have been to. The downtown area and “fan zone” were very much alive and happening! There were several restaurants and bars to visit but the best thing was food trucks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to grab a bite to eat before a game only to find there were 2 hour long waits. In Des Moines, there were several food trucks parked in the fan zone area for a convenient and quick bite to eat. If you’re like me you can’t eat during the game because of the intense cheering! This was a nice option that I haven’t seen in any other city thus far.
If you’re from Iowa you’ve hear of the Iowa Craft Beer Tent. It’s a beer tent full of 20+ different kinds of beers all made in Iowa. My favorite is a cider beer. They had their tent set up in the fan zone complete with TVs for March Madness viewing. The Iowa Craft Beer Tent is well equipped for handling large crowds and made getting a tasty beer quick and easy to get!
Des Moines will host the tournament again, I’m positive. I know they’re putting bids in for the 2019-2021 tournaments. I’m certain they’ll get one of those years. Will Kentucky be placed in Des Moines again? Unlikely. However IF they do, I urge the BBN to come cheer on your Wildcats in a great city. I’ll be sure to post a list of places to go and things to do! Looking forward to next year, Go Big Blue!