Des Moines Named Best Minor League Sports Market

by | Nov 2, 2017 | AHL Hockey, James Hilchen, MiLB

The sports scene in Des Moines recently received quite an honor. Sports Business Journal named the Des Moines market as the top minor league market of 2017, besting 218 other cities across the country.

It’s hard not to like what Des Moines has to offer the sports fan. The Iowa capital boasts four professional teams, not to mention Drake University athletics within the city and Iowa State athletics a mere 30 miles north.

Leading the pack in Des Moines is the Iowa Cubs, triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Triple-A baseball came to Des Moines in 1969 and the affiliation with the Cubs began in 1981. The I-Cubs regularly draw over 500,000 fans to Principal Park and the average attendance of 7,763 was sixth best in the Pacific Coast League in 2017.

The other three teams share the use of Wells Fargo Arena. The Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) began play in the 2013-2014 season after relocating from Houston. The Wild have been very active in the community and their work is paying off, with the team having drawn over 6,000 fans a game for the first time last season.

The Iowa Wolves of the NBA G League (formerly NBA D-League) are in transition. From 2007-2017, the team was known as the Iowa Energy and were most recently affiliated with the Memphis Grizzlies. Prior to the 2017-2018 season, the team was purchased by and is now an affiliate of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Iowa Barnstormers of the Indoor Football League round out the teams in town. The Barnstormers have called Des Moines home since 1995. The Barnstormers were awarded the Best Game Operations in the IFL in 2017.

Market rankings were determined by a combination of tenure, attendance, and economic factors.

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