Basketball Fans Want Downtown Improvements Before 2016 Tourney

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Since the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bid was approved this fall, city organizers have said the city is ready to host.

The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitor's Bureau spokesperson said Saturday's Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena is acting as a trial run for when the NCAA tournament comes to town.

The Capitol city will host the first NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 17 - 19, 2016.

Saturday's event attracted 16,000 fans; come 2016 organizers expect that number to double.

"Oh I think were gonna be in great shape really," said Greg Edwards. "We have over 11,000 hotel rooms in the community. So I think we are going to be a perfect fit for the NCAA tournament."

Two new hotels are in the process of being built in the East Village but fans say hotels are not the problem, its the amount of restaurants in proximity to the arena.

"Buzzard Billy’s is just packed before and after games. It's really hard to meet people there. That seems to be the congregating spot," said Bill Elson.

Buzzard Billy's is the closest restaurant to the Wells Fargo Arena. While the owner welcomes the business, Justin Berkley, would welcome more restaurants to ease the traffic load at his eatery. "When it comes it events, there could be more space. We have room to grow, we have not hit a saturation point in downtown," Berkley said.

There is no word on new restaurants expected to come to the area.

The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitor's Bureau says they are still working the NCAA to figure out when tickets will go on sale and for how much.


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