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Des Moines visitor's guide: What to do if you're in town for March Madness 2023

If you're traveling into Des Moines for the games, here's everything you need to know, including ticket prices, parking availability, road closures and more.

DES MOINES, Iowa — March Madness is on its way to Des Moines. 

The Wells Fargo Arena will host First and Second Round games in the 2023 NCAA Basketball Tournament this week. 

If you're traveling into town for the games, here's everything you need to know, including ticket prices, parking availability and more.

What days will the 2023 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament take place in Des Moines?

The best of the best in men's college basketball will face off in Des Moines on March 16-18. 

Drake University will serve as the host of the games. 

Three Iowa teams (Drake, Iowa and Iowa State) have secured their own positions in the tournament. However, none of the three teams will play on their home turf. 

Instead, teams from Texas A&M, Penn State, Texas, Colgate, Kansas, Howard, Arkansas and Illinois will play at Wells Fargo Arena. 

Previously, Wells Fargo Arena hosted men's tournament games in 2016 and 2019.

Here's a breakdown of the 2023 schedule:


How much are tickets?

Individual day tickets start at $70, but can reach more than $100. If you want a pass for all three days, the cheapest tickets will run you around $300. 

You can buy your tickets here

What should I know before I arrive? 

Like most large venues, there are some things to know before getting to the Wells Fargo Arena. Here's a list of some of their event policies: 

  • Only clear bags, measuring 12"x6"x12" at most, are allowed inside. There are some exceptions, including medical, family and child care bags as well as clutches no larger than 4.5"x6.5".
  • Banners and signs are allowed as long as they do not advertise anything, present a safety hazard, have obscene material on them or block the view of others at the event. 
  • No weapons of any type, including permit to carry, are allowed inside. 
  • The arena is a cashless facility - meaning, all concessions accept only card payments. 

For a full list of prohibited items and security measures, click here

What parking is available at Wells Fargo Arena?

Wells Fargo Arena is part of the Iowa Events Center complex, which includes Hy-Vee Hall and the Community Choice Convention Center. 

Spectator parking is available at the lot north of the Iowa Events Center. To park in that lot, it'll cost $10 for cars, $20 for large trucks and $40 for RVs and buses.

For ADA Accessible parking, enter the lot south of Crocker Street, next to the Community Choice Convention Center.

To ensure you have a place to park, you can reserve a parking spot for the NCAA tournament in Des Moines here

No overnight parking is available at the Iowa Events Center. 

If the main lot fills up, there are plenty of other parking garages and street parking options. Check out Des Moines' visitor parking page to see other options.

What transportation options are there in Des Moines? 

Ubers and Lyfts will be tough to come by during the tournament. 

Your best bet for getting around the city in a timely and cost-efficient manner is public transport, which comes in the form of Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) buses and shuttles. 

With over 15 local routes and plenty of on-call and ride share options, the DART system can take you to and from the Wells Fargo Arena for a few dollars a day. 

Or, if you're staying downtown for the tournament, a free ride on the LINK shuttle will take you all the way to the Center Street Park and Ride, only minutes away from the Wells Fargo Arena on foot. 

Check out all the DART schedules, line maps and fares here.

If you plan on paying in cash, DART drivers ask you bring exact change. Bus passes can be purchased at the DART Central Station, or you can order ahead on the MyDART app. 

Looking to explore after the games are finished? There's a free D-Line shuttle that runs from the Iowa State Capitol complex, through downtown Des Moines and finishes at the Western Gateway. 

Are there any road closures? 

Yes, some roads in downtown Des Moines will be affected by the various events happening this weekend.

All lanes are affected unless otherwise stated.

Closed through the NCAA Basketball Tournament:

  • 2nd Street from Martin Luther King Jr Parkway to Walnut Street
  • Crocker Street from 3rd Street to 5th Avenue
  • Center Street from 2nd Avenue to 3rd Street
  • Court Avenue from 2nd Avenue to 3rd Street

Closed until Friday, March 17 for St. Patrick's Day celebrations:

  • 8th Street from Tuttle Street to High Street
  • 10th Street from Locust Street to High Street
  • 12th Street from Locust Street to Grand Avenue
  • 13th Street from Locust Street to Grand Avenue 
  • Court Avenue from 2nd Avenue to 3rd Street
  • Grand Avenue from 7th Street to 15th Street
  • E 1st Street from E Walnut Street to E Court Avenue
  • E 5th Street from E Locust Street to E Walnut Street
  • E Locust Street from E7th Street to E 5th Street
  • E Walnut Street from E 5th Street to E 1st Street
  • Locust Street from 16th Street to 13th Street and 9th Street to 8th Street
  • Pennsylvania Avenue from E Grand Avenue to E Locust Street
  • Walnut Street from 16th Street to 13th Street and 9th Street to 8th Street
  • SW 16th Street/15th Street from Martin Luther King Jr Parkway to Grand Avenue 

Here is the city's interactive road closure map.

How do the skywalks work?

With cold temperatures and dreary skies forecasted, most will want to avoid long walks outside. Luckily, Des Moines has a system of climate-controlled pedestrian bridges meant to keep you dry and warm, no matter the weather. 

The four-mile long Skywalk paths connect most major streets and buildings in downtown Des Moines, including a path directly to the Wells Fargo Arena. Other pitstops include hotels, restaurants and parking garages.

Skywalk doors lock at varying times, so keep an eye out for posted signs as you explore.

There are kiosks throughout the skywalks, but a PDF version of the map is also available here

What else is there to check out in Des Moines?

While you may be honed in on the basketball, there's plenty to do in downtown Des Moines. 

Check out Court Avenue for great daytime eats and busy bars once the sun sets. Some notable downtown favorites for food include Fong's Pizza, Spaghetti Works, Pho Real Kitchen and Bar, Bernardo's Burritos and plenty more. 

Johnny's Hall of Fame and 1908 Draught House deliver a classic bar experience. But for a more unique night out, Richochet right off of Court or Up-Down in the East Village lets you have some arcade fun while you drink. 

If it's intellectual adventures or beautiful scenes you're after, check out the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens, Historic East Village, Iowa Science Center, Principal Riverwalk, Pappajohn Sculpture Park — and, of course, the Iowa State Capitol

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