Wells Fargo Arena (map it)
730 3rd St
Des Moines, IA 50309
Year Opened: 2005
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa is one of three complexes (along with Hy-Vee Hall and Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center) that comprise the Iowa Events Center.
Located on the banks of the Des Moines River, Wells Fargo Arena opened in 2005 and has an overall capacity of 16,980. Since 2007, the arena is home to the Iowa Energy of the NBA Developmental League. The Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League began play in the arena during the 2008 season. The Iowa Chops of the American Hockey League also played in the arena from 2005-2009.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Wells Fargo Arena offers food and drinks in the traditional open concourse style. There are plenty of options that allow for a variety of choices with very little wait. You can find standard fare throughout the arena. Papa John's pizza ($5/slice), hot dogs ($4 for the basic, higher for Chicago dogs, footlongs, etc.), popcorn, corn dogs, and Dippin' Dots are all readily available.
For something a little different, you can try Stu's Barbecue. Serving pulled pork sandwiches ($7), fried fish sandwiches ($7), and brisket sandwiches ($8), Stu's is a very popular place at Wells Fargo Arena. There are other concessions that include German food and another that sells chicken that were not open during this most recent visit in early 2013.
Coke products are served throughout the arena ($3-$5 depending on size). Vendors sell Budweiser, Bud Light, and Miller Lite in the stands. In the concourse, you can get microbrews such as Fat Tire. Beer prices range from $6-$9 depending on your choice. There are also two full-service bars that offer a great view of the game and a wide variety of cocktails.
In addition to traditional seating, there are plenty of luxury suites overlooking the floor. Seats are padded and comfortable with cup holders on the back of all the seats. It is easy to find the score as it is available on all four sides above the lower seating bowl as well as above the court on the big scoreboard. The video board above the court also shows replays and stats throughout the game.
Surge, the mascot, spends the majority of the time walking through the crowd but does appear on court to throw a few mini basketballs into the crowd. The High Voltage dancers perform throughout the game and throw various merchandise to the fans. The only thing that takes away from the atmosphere in the arena is the size of the building compared to the crowd size. The majority of the seats are empty and it does detract from the overall experience.
Located in downtown Des Moines, Wells Fargo Arena is near many great attractions and plenty of places to eat and drink. At night, all the bridges in the area light up creating an amazing scene with the lights reflecting off the water. Across the river stands the Iowa capitol building which is an amazing building inside and out. In addition, the Iowa History Museum and Science Center of Iowa are a few blocks away.
For a place to eat and drink, Buzzard Billy's is only a block away. Buzzard Billy's serves Cajun and traditional American food with plenty of drinks of all kinds available. Also in the area is Fong's Pizza. Known for its crab Rangoon pizza, Fong's is a destination for both locals and tourists when downtown. If neither of these are what you are looking for, no worries, there are numerous other bars and restaurants all within a few blocks of the arena.
Much like other D-League venues I have attended, the crowd seems to be the regular group of diehards that follow the team closely. The rest of the crowd appears to be there in order to watch their children perform before the game or during halftime, or simply because there wasn't much else to do. Perhaps it's due to the size of the arena but there seems to be a disconnect between many fans and the game.
Wells Fargo Arena is located downtown and sits right off of I-235 making it very easy to access. Parking is available right across the street for $7. You can also park at a parking structure on Fifth and Keo for $5 and take the Skywalk (enclosed area that goes building to building that is very beneficial in the winter). The concourse is very wide and there are no problems getting around. The entire building is handicap accessible. There are plenty of restrooms and they are very clean.
Ticket prices range from $8-$20 depending on your choice of seating. There aren't any bad seats as there are no restricted views and even if you are sitting on one of the baselines, it is still very easy to see the game and getting refreshments or using the restroom is convenient. The ushers that I spoke with were all very friendly and willing to help carry food/drinks if the spectators needed help.
For children, there is an inflatable jumper where kids can play. There is a promotion with Dahl's Grocery Store that keeps some fans interested. If the Energy score 100 points, fans can take the ticket stub to Dahl's for a free frozen pizza; if they hit 8 or more 3-pointers, fans win a free box of cereal; and, if the Energy win, fans win a free box of pastries.
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615 3rd St
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