Iowa basketball’s return to downtown Des Moines became a red-hot ticket Wednesday morning. And in a 90-minute blur, more than 13,000 tickets were gone.
Needless to say, Wells Fargo Arena will be sold out on Dec. 16 when the Iowa women face Cleveland State (a reigning 30-win team) and the Hawkeye men match up with Florida A&M.
There were plenty of factors for the rapidly evaporating tickets:
- A chance to see both Hawkeye teams for one ticket in the state’s largest city.
- Carefully chosen price points to make the seats affordable to the general public.
- And the best women’s player in college basketball.
“The Caitlin Clark effect is undeniable,” Iowa Events Center general manager Chris Connolly said Wednesday. “Look, if you’re a Hawkeye fan, what an opportunity. You can knock the competition, but the women’s team just went to the national championship and came within a hair of winning the whole thing. When have we seen that? … I don’t know if there’s a more popular person in women’s sports than Caitlin.”
Clark, the reigning national player of the year and a sports megastar, is the obvious headliner as she gets a chance to play a college game in her hometown as an Iowa senior. The former star at Dowling Catholic High School tweeted on Wednesday, “This will be a good time in one of my fav cities.”
Tickets are available on the secondary market already, at marked-up prices of course.
While the currently available inventory is gone for the event, Connolly stopped short of calling it a sellout. Wells Fargo Arena’s capacity for the doubleheader is around 14,200, and he said a shade over 13,000 tickets have been sold. What about the other 1,200 or so tickets? Some of those could be released to the public in a few months.
“We have tickets on hold right now that will be processed at some point that will go to all four participating teams. The promoter has some tickets for sponsors. We have a handful in our back pocket for clients,” Connolly said. “That’s about it. It went extremely fast today.”
Connolly credited event promoter Maury Hanks of Global Sports Management for seeking to make the price point affordable to fans. Various ticket prices were available, from $30 in the upper-level to $60 in the lower-bowl end zones to $75 in the lower-bowl sidelines to $100 or $150 near the court. Only a limited number of tickets were available in Tuesday’s presale to the arena’s “Cyber Club.”
“His goal in this event was to make it reasonably priced, which we totally think he did,” Connolly said. “He could’ve priced this higher, but he did not want to do that.”
Tip-off times will be determined in the coming months.
Considering the Iowa women’s program, which ranked No. 2 nationally in attendance last season (behind South Carolina) and had nearly 13,000 season-ticket requests for the 2023-24 season within weeks of Iowa falling in the NCAA title game to LSU, is the marquee attraction, wouldn’t it make sense for them to be the second game?
Not necessarily, Connolly said.
“It’s going to be dictated by TV. That’s what Maury has said all along,” he said. “If it was his preference, he’d prefer to have a 4 o’clock tip and a 7 o’clock tip.”
Connolly knows there were frustrated fans that the got online when tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. and still couldn’t purchase them. His explanation: Demand was just off the charts.
“Some people were saying they got online at 10:02 and couldn’t get a ticket,” Connolly said. “It doesn’t work like that. We had so many people that got on the site. You have people that see a seat in the 100-level corner; they have seven or eight minutes to make that purchase. But because they’re on, until they either buy it or let it go, it shows it as unavailable.”
Bottom line, Wednesday’s barrage of buyers showed that the Caitlin Clark tour next winter is going to be a popular ticket.
In other scheduling news Wednesday, the Iowa men announced they will play at Creighton on Nov. 14 as part of the Gavitt Games, an annual Big Ten vs. Big East series. The Hawkeyes and Bluejays, interestingly, last met in Des Moines in 2011. Iowa hasn’t played in Omaha since 1999.