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  • Writer's pictureAaron S. Terry

Wells Fargo Arena – Iowa Barnstormers

Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Wells Fargo Arena 233 Center St Des Moines, IA 50309

Year Opened: 2005

Capacity: 15,181


Storming the Arena

Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA is a multipurpose venue that opened in 2005 and holds about 16K fans depending on what type of event is going on. The facility hosts a lot of concerts, but in addition, three different sports teams call this venue home, namely the Iowa Wild of minor league hockey, the Iowa Wolves of the NBA G League, and the Iowa Barnstormers of the Indoor Football League.

Food & Beverage 4

There are a lot of different concessions options at Wells Fargo Arena – pizza slices are available from one stand, while Stu’s Bar+B+Q offers items beyond barbecue, including fried shrimp, chicken tenders, and Graziano sausage (a local favorite in the Des Moines area). Stu’s also offers cheese curds, which makes sense given the state’s proximity to Wisconsin.

Options from other vendors include Nathan’s hot dogs and Johnsonville brats, and there is also a Totally Rolled ice cream stand as well as a Chick-fil-A stand. You can also find burgers at yet another stand (in addition to chicken tenders and chicken sandwiches if you don’t want the ones from Stu’s or Chick-fil-A). Corn dogs, cotton candy, and funnel cake round out the selection here, and you can also find all the typical side items like popcorn, packaged candy, Dippin’ Dots, chips, fries, etc.

Drink options include beer, soda, bottled water, and strawberry smoothies – several stands only sell beer, and you can also find the seemingly ubiquitous convenience store type-stand with its huge selection of canned drinks. There are plenty of small tables dotted around the concourse if you want to eat your food or drink your drink at those before heading back to your seat.

Note that not every concession stand at Wells Fargo Arena is open during Iowa Barnstormers games (you will see a few closed ones), but what is there should be more than enough to satisfy. There are also roaming vendors selling vodka lemonade and cotton candy in the stands themselves if you don’t want to walk to the concessions during the game.

Atmosphere 3

A few football stadiums have cowbells, like Mississippi State football, and this is one of them – the cow bells are undoubtedly the most notable sound you will hear throughout the game. There are also plenty of fan contests like pedal car races and football tosses, and the staff tosses out t-shirts as well.

The turf itself looks quite sharp with its alternating light green and dark green stripes and bright colors, and the field looks brand new, unlike a lot of arena football stadiums you may have been to. In addition, the team takes the field accompanied by strobe lights, smoke, and a group of motorcycles from a local club. But the best part of the atmosphere is probably the mascot – in the theme of the team’s name, the Iowa Barnstormers mascot fits the part beautifully – dressed as an old-timey prop plane pilot (think crop dusters).

Neighborhood 3

There are plenty of restaurants and hotels near Wells Fargo Arena, which is located in downtown Des Moines right next to the river. One great local option is Pho 888, a Vietnamese restaurant about a mile from the arena – it might look like a dive from the outside, but the food is authentic.

If you are looking to take in another sporting event while in Des Moines, the hockey and NBA G League seasons are likely over by the time indoor football rolls around, but you might be able to catch a horse race at Prairie Meadows if you time it right.

Fans 2

There are not many fans at Iowa Barnstormers games, so the venue looks pretty empty even though the upper level is curtained off. Nevertheless, you will still hear a lot of noise from the cowbells I mentioned early, so the venue doesn’t seem quite as empty as it looks. You can also buy team gear inside the arena if you want some Barnstormers swag.

Access 4

Parking right across the street from Wells Fargo Arena costs $10, and there is plenty of room to move around the concourse. Thanks to the myriad concessions stand which are open, you will also find very short lines (if you have a line at all) when getting your food and drink, and there are more than enough bathrooms to accommodate the size of the crowd. Getting to the venue is also very easy, as there is not a lot of traffic, even close to rush hour; I-235 goes right by the arena, either from the east or west.

Return on Investment 3

The cheapest tickets to Iowa Barnstormers games run $18 when you buy at the door; you may end up paying a little more than that with fees if you buy online, so you can save a little money if you wait since the arena will not be sold out. Parking is reasonable at $10, and there are plenty of lower costs concessions options.

All that said, the lack of fans does mean there is a lack of energy compared to some other IFL venues. However, it is an enjoyable night out, and you do get to keep the ball if it happens to come into the stands near you.

Extras 2

There are TVs in the hallways so you can keep track of the game while getting something to eat, and there are beautiful views of the river from the huge windows along the hallways of the different levels.

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