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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 29, 2008

ISU, NCAA on center stage next month in Des Moines

by Erin Rosacker

Women's basketball fans and a bevy of Iowa State personnel will spend the final weekend of spring break in the confines of Des Moines' Wells Fargo Arena.

Iowa State, in partnership with the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, is hosting the first and second rounds of the 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship -- the first NCAA postseason event to be played at the venue.

Iowa State is a veteran host of NCAA four-team women's basketball tournaments in Ames, but the move to Des Moines was necessary to accommodate eight teams -- and their media, fans, bands and cheer squads -- in area hotels. Des Moines jumped at the chance to showcase itself and its new arena, with visions of future NCAA championships awarded to the capitol city.

"This is a great opportunity for the Des Moines area to shine brightly for the NCAA," said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau. "If we put on a good tournament, it may increase our chances to host more NCAA events in the future. It is our objective to show the student-athletes, coaches, fans and the NCAA that we have the know-how to do big events. This is certainly a stepping stone for our community to put on a successful and memorable tournament to ensure future NCAA events for Greater Des Moines."

Behind the scenes

Staging the event has been more than a yearlong process. Iowa State has recruited more than 50 volunteers to assist a core staff in staging everything from ball girls and boys to behind-the-scenes media operations.

"Putting on a national event of this magnitude is a great opportunity to showcase Iowa State University and the tremendous fan support for women's basketball in central Iowa," said Jamie Pollard, director of athletics. "The NCAA recognizes institutions and fan bases that are willing and capable of creating a great environment for their championship events. Simply put, that's why Iowa State is hosting this event for the seventh time."

March 21-24 schedule

The first and second rounds include four days of practices, games and press conferences. All eight teams are scheduled for practice times from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 21 (public welcome, free admission). On Saturday, two games will be played in both the morning (11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and evening (7 and 9:30 p.m.) sessions. Sunday is filled with press conferences and practices, but there are no public events. Monday's games (6 and 8:30 p.m.) send two teams on to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, each at one of the four regional sites.

Tickets are available online, by phone (866-55-DAHLS) or in person at the ISU athletics or Wells Fargo Arena ticket offices. All-session tickets are $38 ($23 for youth). Single-session tickets, on sale March 18, is $16 ($11 for youth).

A seasoned NCAA host

In its first 21 years (1982-2002), the NCAA women's tournament preliminary games were assigned to the 16 top-seeded schools on the day of the selection announcement. Iowa State and Hilton Coliseum played host to five consecutive years (1998-2002) of NCAA first- and second-round games in that span, as well as the 2002 Midwest Regional Championship. In 2003 and 2004, the NCAA sent teams to 16 predetermined sites. Ames was one of the sites in 2004.

The Cyclone women's basketball team didn't make the 2004 NCAA Tournament, but did earn a bid to the Women's National Invitational Tournament and sandwiched four WNIT home games around the NCAA event.

In 2005, the NCAA changed its format to eight predetermined sites (eight teams at each) for the first and second rounds, mirroring the setup for the men's tournament. However, this year marks the end of that format. The tournament moves back to a four-team competition at 16 predetermined sites in 2009. That's good news for Ames, which was selected as one of those host sites for the 2010 preliminary rounds.

"With a return to the old tournament format, it became viable again for us to host the championship in Ames," Pollard said. "Bringing 'March Madness' to Hilton Coliseum in two years extends our reputation as a preferred championship host for the NCAA."


"The NCAA recognizes institutions and fan bases that are willing and capable of creating a great environment for their championship events. Simply put, that's why Iowa State is hosting this event for the seventh time."

Jamie Pollard