Fans Adapt to New Surroundings

Dallas, TX -- The tradition of Iowa State fans flocking to the Kansas City area and hitting popular hangout Kelly's during the Big 12 Tournament is on a two-year hiatus. And while no bar or nightclub in Dallas will ever approach the history of the Westport establishment, Cyclone fans are well on their way to building new traditions.

Reaction to the conference tournament moving to a new city for two years initially garnered a frigid response from the ISU faithful. However, most have dealt with the new setting and are even liking it.

"I'd like to have it back in Kansas City, but as long as it's not in Des Moines that's alright," said Bruce Lambert, a Cyclone fan who flew in from Des Moines. "As long as I can leave town and turn it into a vacation, I'll go anywhere.

"It's better than I thought. I was a little worried. But the Houston and Dallas Cyclone Clubs are pretty big. You figure a lot of these guys are locals. There have been a lot of locals who'd be here no matter what. It's packed. You can't get into the tent."

Others have went so far as to say that Dallas offers something Kansas City does not – particularly a lively West End district where the town rolled out the red carpet for tournament goers from all 12 schools.

"It's still a far ways to come, but other than that's it's been great," said Des Moines native Brian Martz. "The weather has been great. It was nice to stay in Kansas City in downtown where you could walk to the women's game and take a shuttle to Kemper. But there are still shuttles here to American Airlines Arena, so it's similar that way. The West End District is nice, closing off the streets and setting up tents. It's a nice meeting place."

The West End Marketplace area was host to ‘Victory Fest' throughout the week. Every conference school held a pep rally in the area. Concerts each night added to the atmosphere as well.

"It's very nice that all of the clubs and bars are in one area," said former Des Moines Cyclone Club president Jennifer Garrells. "The Victory Fest is great. They're definitely trying to appeal to the fans."

Martz and several other ISU fans also found the time to play a round of golf or take in the nearby Kennedy Memorial when the Cyclones weren't hitting the floor at American Airlines Arena on Thursday and Friday.

Regardless of venue or host city, Cyclone fans still consider the Big 12 Tournament and fanfare that goes along with it one of their highlights of the year.

"You get used to the town, seeing the same places, staying at the same hotels, knowing the best hot spots to go to and the best restaurants and bars," said Jeff Holdorf, co-host of a weekly Cyclone sports radio show in Des Moines. "It becomes kind of a traditional type thing. People you see once a year, you see in the same places. There is a group of people you rarely see ever, except at the Big 12 Tournament."

After a memorable first year in Dallas, it's safe to say that ISU fans are already counting the days until they converge on West End again next March.

(CN would like to thank The Nest Bar & Grill in Johnston for sponsoring our coverage from Kansas City. CN & The Nest would like to invite you to join us on Wednesday, August 27th for our 2003 preseason tailgate party. Stay tuned to CN and 1460-KXNO for more details)

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