Iowa City ready for National Duals


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For the third time in the 26-year history of the National Duals, the tournament will take place in Iowa City, and local business hope for a boost in business.

The National Duals, which started last week with regional matchups, will bring five of Flowrestling’s top-six teams to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Among the eight total teams participating, four — including Iowa — are Big Ten schools, making the event all the more appealing for many of the bars and restaurants that populate downtown Iowa City.

“Anytime you have wrestling programs like Iowa and Minnesota and Missouri all in town — and I’m sure there’s going to be plenty from Illinois — it’s a great thing,” said Joshua Schamberger, the president of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I’ve been getting calls from people looking for tickets, looking to upgrade tickets — it’s a great thing.”

With Iowa being the wrestling hotbed it is, there is the hope it will draw a large number of fans, something the duals haven’t always done.

However, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Iowa athletics ticket office told The Daily Iowan it has sold 6,100 tickets for the Saturday quarter- and semifinals, as well as around 6,500 for Feb. 22’s championship session.

“Iowa is just an easy decision to bring this event to, just because the incredible fan base and enthusiasm for the sport in that region,” National Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Director Mike Moyer said. “Iowa’s obviously highly ranked and the favorite coming in, but there are a lot of terrific teams out there.”

While the competition in the National Duals will be good, the event will fight for fans and viewership with the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday.

It’s something that is certainly on Schamberger’s and Moyer’s minds, but they believe that the allure of the Hawkeyes wrestling other top teams and that the state tournament will be over during the final rounds will be enough to draw fans to Carver-Hawkeye.

“There is no doubt that will have some impact, though I am not sure to what extent,” Moyer said. “But I still expect there to be a healthy crowd at Iowa on [Feb. 22], and I hope that anyone that isn’t out at the state tournament come and support this, because this is an important event for our sport.”

Important, but also nice for Iowa fans who have seen their team go on the road for its big-name duals against Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Penn State.

If things shake out the way Iowa would like them to, the Hawkeyes could get a crack at the second-ranked Gophers and the third-ranked Buckeyes in front of their own fans.

“We’re excited to have it,” Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands said. “It’s good for our fans, and we’re going to be ready to go and scrap, just like the seven other teams that are headed to Iowa City.”

Follow @JordyHansen on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa wrestling team.

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