I don’t know about you, but the cooler weather has me ready for some football. College football, that is. College football is as much a part of fall in Iowa as raking leaves and picking out the perfect pumpkin. Des Moines area fans are fortunate to have six teams- within a (long) Hail Mary pass of the city limits. Here’s a look at the colleges and universities Des Moines families will be cheering for this football season.
City: Des Moines
Home Field: Drake Stadium
Conference: Missouri Valley Conference
Tickets: Youth (3-18) $6.00 and Adults $12.00 Single Game Tickets; for information www.draketix.com or call (515) 271-DOGS (3647).
Whether you’re a Drake alum or a Des Moines resident, you can show your kids some great college football without traveling very far at all. This year, the Bulldogs will face conference foes South Dakota, Valparaiso, Davidson and more at home at Drake Stadium. At the game, there are tons of Drake traditions kids will love, whether it’s welcoming the team as they make their way into the stadium, tailgating or having a meet and greet with Griff.
You’ll want to be sure to mark your calendars for a few events hosted especially for families. On August 20th, the football team will host its annual Youth Day at Drake Stadium from 5:30-6:30 pm. This event is FREE for all youth in the eighth grade and under, who are encouraged to join the Bulldogs for football related fun and games. October 28th is Kid Day. All kids (18 and under) can purchase a ticket for just $1.00 each and as a bonus it’s Bulldog Halloween, so you can wear your costume to the game and enjoy some fun Halloween activities.
City: Des Moines
Home Field: Williams Stadium
Conference: Heart of America Athletic Conference
Tickets: $10, Single-Game Tickets can be purchased at the box office at game time.
Another hometown team, where it’s easy and inexpensive to catch some gridiron action. Small school football may not get a lot of national media attention, but since rebooting their football program about 10 years ago, Grandview has quickly become a football powerhouse. They will enter the 2017 season ranked No. 9 in the NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. The Vikings have been part of the Heart of America Athletic Conference the past two seasons, claiming the North Division champion both years.
GV will open their season at home with a special kickoff on Thursday, August 24th at 6:30 pm. Prior to their home opener, the Vikings will be hosting a community-wide Football Kick-off Tailgate from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at the Maple Street Baptist Church Parking Lot at 1552 Maple Street. Another fun game to attend would be their Homecoming game on Saturday, September 23, 2017 when they host another tailgate party with games and activities.
Home Field: Jack Trice Stadium
Conference: Big 12 Conference
Tickets: Single-Game Ticket prices vary by game. Purchase on-line or call (888) 478-2925.
With newish head coach Matt Campbell looking to rebuild the Cyclones’ football program, there is plenty of optimism in Ames. Senior Allen Lazard is among the best receivers in the Big 12 Conference and is on verge of breaking ISU’s career receiving yards record. But, if your kids aren’t that into the game, they’ll still think this is a fun outing only 45 minutes from Des Moines. A few hours before kickoff, check out the Cyclone Experience. It’s home to fun pregame festivities, including face painting for little fans, as well as bounce houses and opportunities to meet ISU athletes from other sports.
The annual Cyclone Fan Fest is this Sunday, August 20th from 12:00 to 3:00 pm in Bergstrom Football Complex. This FREE event gives you the opportunity to interact with Iowa State coaches and student-athletes. There will be plenty of activities for children to enjoy, including inflatables, interactive stations and face painters. Bring your cameras and get a picture with Cy. If you do attend a game in Ames this fall, be sure to check out Your Kid-Friendly Guide to Jack Trice Stadium for even more information.
Home Field: Buxton Stadium
Conference: Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Tickets: Single Game Tickets can be purchased the day of the game at the gate.
Division III college football may not get all the love, but those student athletes, put their heart and soul into the game each Saturday, just the same as the big schools’ student athletes do. Close to Des Moines, the Simpson Storm play in Indianola, which is just a quick drive south of the metro. Coming off a three-year slump, Coach Matt Jeter is looking to help the Storm navigate their way out of it this season.
If you’re in the mood to tailgate, you can do so in a designated lot at Hillman Hall (just east of the stadium). Some fun football games to attend are when Simpson takes on their biggest rivals Central College on September 30th and Homecoming on October 14th, a fun family friendly event with inflatables, games, activities and face painting.
City: Iowa City
Home Field: Kinnick Stadium
Conference: Big 10
Tickets: Single-Game Ticket prices vary by game. Purchase on-line or call 1-800 IA-HAWKS (424-2957).
Iowa City is a little under two hours from Des Moines, and is a mecca for Hawkeye football fans. It’s definitely an experience, but it is not cheap; tickets are expensive, and every human must have one, regardless of age. A trip to Kinnick, however, doesn’t have to break the bank if you’re willing to forego the game. It may sound blasphemous, but ask yourself if your kids are able to sit on bleachers through a three-and-a-half hour game. If they are, check out Your Kid Friendly Guide to Kinnick Stadium.
If not, you don’t have to miss all the fun. It’s not unusual for Des Moines families to drive over just to experience the pregame pomp and circumstance, including seeing the marching band, watching the team walk into the stadium, and visiting the Hawkeye Kids Zone and Hawkeye Tailgate. Some families stay and watch the game televised at different locations on campus. Others listen to it on the radio on the road home (less traffic!) and are able catch the second half from their couch.
City: Cedar Falls
Home Field: UNI Dome
Conference: Missouri Valley Conference
Tickets: Single-Game Ticket prices vary by game. Purchase on-line or call 1-319-273-4TIX (4849)
Many Panther fans make the two-hour drive to Cedar Falls from Des Moines for game day. UNI finished last season 5-6 overall and 4-4 in Missouri Valley Football Conference play and will be tested this season with a tough schedule against ranked teams. One of the best things about attending a UNI football game is that the temperature is great no matter the weather, a real bonus when you have littles in tow.
The Hy-Vee Fan Zone has become one of the school’s most popular game day traditions. Spend $50 at any Cedar Falls, Waterloo or Waverly Hy-Vee stores all season long and receive one ticket into the Hy-Vee Fan Zone Tailgate at each home game. They will have lots of food, of course, and live music all season long. October 7th is Homecoming, against Western Illinois and October 21st is Family weekend against Youngstown State.
Will your family be attending a college football game this fall? If so, let us know where!
Featured image courtesy of the Imoehl family.