Iowa Considers Playing Basketball Game In Sioux City

By Scott Dochterman, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa's men's basketball program is weighing the possibility of playing either a game or an exhibition in Sioux City next season, Athletics Director Gary Barta confirmed to The Gazette.

Barta said nothing is "imminent" but with three current starters hailing from the Sioux City area, the situation has piqued athletics officials' interest.

"We haven't for sure decided on an opponent," Barta said. "First we're trying to see if the venue is interested and if we get to that point, then we would have to figure out who the opponent would be.

"We've talked to them about it. We're interested, but we're a long way from having it finalized."

The game would be held at the Tyson Events Center's Gateway Arena. The basketball seating arrangement is set at 6,309 but it could be reconfigured to add more seats, executive director Aron Rush said Wednesday.

"We're definitely trying to pull it together to make it happen and make it a reality," Rush said. "I think it starts with us laying the groundwork. There are no definite plans at this moment, but we hope that that changes."

Arena officials sent a prospective email to Sioux City-area residents in late October asking if they'd be willing to pay $35 a ticket to watch an Iowa game. Rush said "there was overwhelming amount of positive interest."

A possible opponent could be South Dakota, a school located less than 40 miles from Sioux City. The Hawkeyes play host to South Dakota on Dec. 4 this season.

Gateway Arena hosts the NAIA women's national tournament as well as basketball games involving Sioux City-area colleges and high schools. It also attracts major concerts, hosts Sioux City's hockey and indoor football teams and other events.

Current junior Zach McCabe (Sioux City Heelan), freshman Adam Woodbury (Sioux City East) and freshman Mike Gesell (South Sioux City, Neb.) all were prominent prep players in the Sioux City area. Assistant coach Kirk Speraw also was raised in Sioux City.

"Sometimes in sports we'll look for an away game that goes into someone's hometown," Barta said. "This could be a case where we have so many student-athletes in the area so is there a way to put together a game in the area.

"We'd have to find a date. We'd have to find an opponent, and we'd have to make sure the financials would work out."

Iowa does have a history of scheduling neutral-site games in other markets with large fan bases. Iowa opened the season in 1996 and 1998 against Western Illinois in the Quad Cities. Iowa played Creighton last year at Des Moines' Wells Fargo Arena as part of the Dale Howard Classic. Iowa also will participate in the Big 4 Classic in Des Moines for the next four years.

CORRECTION: An earlier headline on this story read that "Iowa Considers Playing Basketball Game In Sioux Falls," which was incorrect. Iowa is considering playing a game in Sioux City, not Sioux Falls. We apologize for the mistake.
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