I am almost ashamed to admit I had never been to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a dual before this weekend. I have been there for tournaments and actually to compete, but never for a dual. So when the chance was there to visit some friends and take in the Iowa vs Iowa State rivalry this weekend, I had to jump at it.
I got there very early as my excitement may have got the best of me. It gave me plenty of time to see the statue of Lord Gable. It's a great salute to the best coach in the history of American sports.
I was shocked by the amount of ice cream consumed. There seemed to be a lot of people, especially older gentlemen, who have a routine of getting there early and enjoying some ice cream well before the match. There are free posters, key chains, and corn propaganda for the kids. Hey, when you fill an arena with almost 12,000 people there is going to be some sponsors. It's good for the sport.
The arena filled up except for the student section. It was Thanksgiving Day weekend so a lot of students are not on campus. The announced attendance was 11,882 despite the recent holiday. The atmosphere is amazing from all angles. There is a pep band, cheerleaders, dance team, video screens, and the fact the scorer's table is a video screen is one of the coolest things out there in wrestling.
The fans are engrossed in to the match with every little move. Subtle things in the matches like mat returns, breakdowns, and rideouts are celebrated with loud cheers while in other gyms such small facets would not be. The "Iowa Advantage" certainly does come in to play. As soon as a visitor is backing up or (heaven forbid) gets broken down to their belly, the crowd immediately starts yelling for stalling....and often receives it. It's home mat advantage at it's finest. A close match in the 3rd period gets the home crowd yelling for their guy and you can feel the energy they are giving him. It's quite incredible.
Overall, I was very happy it worked out with my schedule to catch a match in Iowa. It was really awesome. I hope to return soon. Here is a highlight of the arena rocking versus Penn State last year.