Every four years the general public turns its attention to Des Moines, Iowa for the politically crucial Iowa caucuses, but the sports industry always has an eye on this facility-rich city. The Hawkeye State’s capital and largest city is flush with event centers, sports complexes and colleges with facilities for rent. To give your tournament a vote of confidence, consider committing to Des Moines.
Prairie Ridge Youth Sports Complex
A 20-minute drive north of downtown Des Moines, this complex is the area’s largest for baseball and tennis events. Prairie Ridge features 15 baseball fields complete with scoreboards, covered dugouts, permanent seating and an onsite meeting room. The complex’s 18 outdoor tennis courts are the most in the area, and Prairie Ridge also has 11 soccer fields and five softball fields fitted with the same features as the baseball clovers.
Home of the Bulldogs, Drake University can give your Des Moines area event a taste of Division I facilities. Drake Stadium is the school’s premier venue, with seating for 14,557 and the flexibility to host football, soccer, lacrosse and track and field events. The multi-purpose turf field has lights and is surrounded by a one-of-a-kind baby blue track. Drake also has five available basketball courts, six volleyball courts, 12 tennis courts and a softball stadium.
Raccoon River Park
For soccer tournaments, you won’t find many facilities better equipped than Raccoon River Park in nearby West Des Moines. The park sprawls over 631 acres and has a public beach, lakeside nature trail and several picnic shelters to go along with its 24 full-size soccer fields and five lit softball fields. The natural forest setting offers a unique change from many large sports complexes, but doesn’t detract from the park’s ability to pull off great events.
Home to Chicago Cubs AAA affiliate the Iowa Cubs, Principal Park is one of the best minor league stadiums in the country, and a great main site for any Des Moines area baseball tournament. The park seats 11,500 and has locker rooms and concession areas available for tournament use. You can see the Iowa State Capitol (which is lit up at night) over the centerfield wall, and kids love the fountain that they are free to run through and play in behind the right field foul pole.
Iowa Event Center
This massive indoor facility is connected to the 16,980-seat Wells Fargo Arena and is a great place for larger scale basketball, volleyball and wrestling tournaments. The arena is home to the NBA D-League’s Iowa Energy and the AFL’s Iowa Barnstormers, and has hosted the state’s high school basketball and wrestling tournaments since it was completed in 2005. The event center’s Hy-Vee Hall has four basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts and room for 40 wrestling mats in addition to the main arena.
Home of the Storm, Simpson College is an NCAA Division III institution with 22 venues available for rent. High capacity facilities include the track and field complex and wrestling center, which hold 5,000 and 3,000 respectively. In addition the university has five regulation basketball courts, six volleyball courts, a soccer field, softball field and baseball field. The soccer, softball field and baseball fields all have permanent lighting.
The Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and the sports commission are committed to hosting great events at a great price, and offer a wide range of money-saving options for local attractions and hotels. The CVB will work with you to get sport-specific room rates, coupons for the metro area and even gifts for your tournament’s participants.
Popular year-round attractions include the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park at the Des Moines Art Center, Blank Park Zoo, the State Historical Museum and the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Be sure to check out the water fun at nearby Adventureland Park in the summer, and consider planning your event to coincide with the annual Iowa State Fair or the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.
Getting to Des Moines and Getting Around
Des Moines International Airport is just three miles from the city’s business district and serves over two million passengers annually. Most flights from surrounding states take just over an hour. If you choose to fly in, Des Moines has public buses and cab services to get around if you prefer not to rent a vehicle.
For drivers, I-35 and I-80 intersect right outside of Des Moines, making the trip right into the city uncomplicated. Des Moines is just over two hours from both Omaha and Kansas City, four hours from Minneapolis and about a five to six hour trip from St. Louis, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Contact InformationKatie Fencl
Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau
400 Locust Street, Suite 265, Des Moines, IA
www.catchdesmoines.com – Daniel Morrill