Des Moines planners could hardly have asked for anything better: the Baylor Bears, the nation’s top-ranked women’s college basketball team and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, one of the most successful teams in the sport. To make it even better Baylor features 6’8″ dunking sensation Brittney Griner. Tennessee is led by iconic coach Pat Summit, who sadly suffers from the early stages of dementia, which threatens her coaching future. The game is Monday night’s marquee matchup for Des Moines as the city hosts the Elite 8 tournament, a test to see how many fans will fill the stands.
It has been so far, so good for Greg Edwards, President and Chief Executive of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau. The weekend’s game at Wells Fargo Arena drew nearly 8,000 fans, far more than the other three cities hosting games across the country. Edwards said, “From banners, to welcome signs at the airport, to police escorts, to bringing the kids in their motorcades from the airport. All the little things make a difference. It shows the NCAA and the students that, hey, we care. We know this is big time for you. We want you leaving here thinking, wow, that was really a memorable experience.”
Edwards hoped to draw a crowd of 10,000 fans for Monday’s night’s game, a crowd big enough he feels will show the country Des Moines is ready for even bigger tournaments in the future.