Growing up outside Chicago, I am used to a large sports market that often captivates the entire state. Then I moved to Iowa. Even in a state with no professional sporting presence, Des Moines offers a recently expanding variety of sporting experiences.
This week, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad helped announce Des Moines Golf and Country Club will host the 2017 Solheim Cup. I’m sure a lot of you are saying, “So what? It’s golf,” or “What is a Solheim Cup?” Let me explain why this matters. The Solheim Cup is the LPGA equivalent to the men’s Ryder Cup, in which 12 of the best USA golfers are put up against 12 of the best European golfers in a match play tournament. Each individual win earns a point for the home country. The contest is played every two years. The Solheim Cup in 2017 will not only award Des Moines residents the opportunity to see some of the best women’s golfers in the world going head-to-head, but will also bring spectators and positive sports media to the Des Moines area. This is yet another exciting sporting event our city can put on its resume going forward, and I recommend checking it out come tournament time.
Next month, Des Moines residents will be offered an exciting addition to the local sports scene. The Iowa Wild will open their first season in the AHL, a National Hockey League affiliate (equate it to the Triple-A level in baseball, the Iowa Cubs). The team moved from Houston this summer and will offer yet another developmental sports team for Iowa to enjoy. They are a step below the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and will host 38 home games at the Wells Fargo Arena. Des Moines residents have already started to prepare for the next big sports thing for the city, as season ticket sales have surpassed the club’s goal of 1,300, with under a month left to the beginning of the regular season. The Wild bring hockey back to a town that lost their AHL franchise in 2009. Play opens on October 2, when a Green and White Scrimmage will be free for those who bring a canned food donation. The home opener downtown Des Moines will be Saturday, October 12 (tickets can be purchased here).
With established developmental teams like the Iowa Cubs (baseball), Iowa Energy (basketball) and Des Moines Buccaneers (junior hockey), Des Moines offers several exciting sporting experiences already. But maybe down the line, with an expanding market like our city is able to boast, Des Moines can break into the professional sporting scene. For now, take a load off and enjoy one of the many hometown teams, big or small, they successfully represent Des Moines’ growing sports presence. And hopefully one day we have the luxury of reporting on a big league sports franchise in Des Moines!