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Des Moines will host 2023 NCAA men's basketball tournament

Randy Peterson   | Des Moines Register

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is returning to downtown Des Moines.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that the first and second rounds of March Madness 2023 is returning to Wells Fargo Arena for the third time. The major event was successful in 2016 and 2019, the last time Des Moines hosted.

Last January, Polk County supervisors voted to set aside $50,000 for each of four potential years in which Des Moines had a opportunity to be a candidate between 2023-2026.

The largest event the NCAA annually holds brought an estimated $4.6 million in direct spending each year when the 2016 and 2019 tournaments were held at Wells Fargo.

“The NCAA has told us they like our location, our airport and the convenience of getting in and out,’” Catch Des Moines CEP Greg Edwards said in an interview with the Register last January. “They like the fact we’ve hosted this two different times and we know what we’re doing,” he said.

“But you never know what your competition out there is doing. We recognize the bottom line is important to any convention or event. And the NCAA is pretty specific about what you can and cannot do.”

Drake University will again host the regional, which excludes the Bulldogs from Des Moines regional consideration. Iowa State, Iowa and Northern Iowa, however, will be eligible.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writing for the Des Moines Register for parts of six decades. Reach him at, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.

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