DES MOINES, Iowa — While high school wrestlers from all over the state are facing challenges on the mat, tournament-goers are facing some different challenges of their own in the parking lot.
“It can be a challenge, especially during the week, when all the businesses are here parking and doing that as well, and it’s a little easier on Saturday for parking, but yeah, it’s definitely a challenge,” Sioux City Bishop Heelan fan Al Stubblefield said.
Other fans said they chose to have someone drop them off because they knew they would have to park a lot further from the arena.
“The parking getting into here today was really very hard, so we have a driver. My husband was kind enough today to drop us off, and I don’t know if he’s parked yet. The parking ramps were full and the parking lots are full, so I don’t know,” Sioux City Bishop Heelan fan Trina Joines said.
Even employees of area businesses have struggled to find spaces to park.
“Parking is definitely a challenge. Some of our employees are forced to park six, seven, eight blocks away, and we recommend most of them try to get an Uber or a cab or car pool,” Buzzard Billy’s General Manager Jeff Kirby said.
With an estimated 80,000 people in town, restaurants are packed and hotels are booked up.
“The restaurants are full, but it’s a lot of fun. A lot of people [are] here to celebrate together and [have] a lot of social time,” Joines said.
Buzzard Billy’s restaurant has been so busy they have almost had a constant waiting list.
“We always open the lower level as an overflow. We do concession-style food, beer and cocktails as well. We just want to be able to take care of as many people as we possibly can. People are limited on their choices this close to the arena,” Kirby said.
But despite the challenges, fans love coming back every year.
“What’s great about it is you have athletes from basically every school in the state. So you have fans here from every school in the state, and just the whole environment is exciting,” Stubblefield said.