A massive, 10-day sporting event is coming to Iowa next summer.
The Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games will run from July 26 to Aug. 5, 2023 at Drake Stadium at Drake University and the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex in West Des Moines.
The Games will return to the venues in 2026 and 2030.
Described in a news release from tourism organization Catch Des Moines as the “largest multi-sport event for youth” in the country, the AAU Junior Olympics will feature 12 events such as boys’ and girls’ wrestling, swimming, track and field, karate and fencing.
The 2023 Games are expected to bring about 14,000 participants to the Des Moines metro. Between hotel stays, dining and other spending, the event is estimated to have an economic impact of $44 million, according to the release.
Des Moines and its suburbs have hosted the Games seven times, starting in 1995 and most recently in 2018, the release states.
RecPlex General Manager Shayne Ratcliff said officials have been working to bring the Games to the facility for a few months. It will serve as the “home base” for teams, plus host seven sports, he said. Drake will host the rest.
“This is a complete different demographic than we’ve hosted, which is exactly what we built this facility for,” Ratcliff said.
The $45 million, 300,000-square-foot facility opened in October at 6500 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines. It has four basketball courts, three pickleball courts, one full-size indoor soccer field, an esports center and two ice rinks.
More:West Des Moines’ RecPlex will hold a grand opening Sunday. Here’s everything you can do there.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said in the release that the news is “exciting” and “will have a great impact on our local economies.”
“Anytime we get the opportunity to showcase Iowa on the national stage is yet another chance for us to share just how great our state is and the great potential we have,” she said.
The Amateur Athletic Union was founded in 1888 and works to promote and develop youth sports and other fitness programs.
Sarah LeBlanc covers the western suburbs for the Register. Reach her at 515-284-8161 or email@example.com. Follower her on Twitter at @sarahkayleblanc