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Des Moines metro prepares for March Madness

When Des Moines last hosted the NCAA tournament in 2019, officials say it generated over $8 million for the city.

DES MOINES, Iowa — It's not exactly breaking news at this point, but it's almost time for March Madness to descend on Des Moines.

Officials with the Iowa Events Center said that when tickets for the games first went on sale, they had already sold out by the end of the day. And all those incoming fans are great news for Iowa's capital city.

Catch Des Moines expects there will be over 2,000 visitors to the metro during March Madness. Once the Iowa Wolves are done taking on the Birmingham Squadron in Wells Fargo Arena on Monday night, the final preparations begin.

"When that game gets over and the crowd clears, we go into setup mode for NCAA basketball in the hopes to get everything set up inside the arena by about noon on Tuesday so that we can be ready when the NCAA comes in tomorrow afternoon," said Adam Flack, Marketing Director of the Iowa Events Center.

It's not the first time Des Moines has hosted games for the tournament. The last time players went dancing there was back in 2019, and they brought a huge boost for local businesses with them.

"We estimated an economic impact the last couple years that we've hosted over $8 million to the economy, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, on and on and on," said Greg Edwards, President/CEO of Catch Des Moines.

Organizers are expecting that in 2023, they will be even more of a draw. 

"We're going to have great crowds, with schools like Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas. All those schools should travel pretty well," Edwards added.

It's taken over 18 months of planning, but fans won't have to wait much longer for tipoff. And once the dust has settled, officials hope that Des Moines will have some new fans of its own, too. 

"A lot of those folks probably never been to Des Moines. And so it's a first chance that we can really show off what a great city we have. And we guarantee you when they leave here, they'll say, 'Wow, Des Moines was really a cool place,'" Edwards said.

If you weren't able to grab tickets before they sold out, hope isn't totally lost.

Teams will be holding open practice sessions at Wells Fargo Arena on March 15, starting with Howard University at 11 a.m. Watching those practices is completely free.

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