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Looks like lots of empty seats on TV…. This event is dying.
— Mike Krogman (@sogoodsosoon) December 16, 2017
ANSWER: The Hy-Vee Classic is on the books through 2019, but it never has captured heavy interest for fans around the state. Around a third of the seats in lower bowl were empty for the curtain-raiser between Iowa and Drake. With the Hawkeyes rolling the Bulldogs by 26 points, cheers at Wells Fargo Arena rarely raised beyond a dull roar Saturday.
It was completely different when Iowa State faced Northern Iowa. At times the sound was deafening. The game was competitive and energetic. That typically happens when Iowa plays UNI as well.
The problem with the classic is … Drake. The Bulldogs are 0-6 and only twice have they lost by fewer than 17 points. UNI has beaten both Iowa and Iowa State at the Well, including once when the Cyclones were ranked No. 5 nationally. Drake once played Iowa to within 6 points and ISU within 9.
In order to save the Hy-Vee Classic from fading, it might be time to bring in two new teams annually and expand the format to three games. Perhaps add a regional opponent such as Omaha, UMKC or Western Illinois to play Drake. Then on years when Iowa doesn’t face UNI, maybe bring in Missouri, Kansas State or Creighton. When Iowa State doesn’t play Northern Iowa, Big Ten teams Minnesota or Nebraska could make for an interesting opponent. A national media partner might have interest in televising the event, which has not happened yet.
If Drake becomes competitive like it was from 2006 through 2008, the classic would thrive. But if this two-game series continues to look like a JV-varsity doubleheader, I doubt it survives past 2019.
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