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For families of high school Drake Relays qualifiers, tickets are agonizingly scarce
Capacity will be only 3,000 for Thursday’s program at Drake Stadium
DES MOINES — Ben Welsch and his wife Kim Ungs have one ticket between them for Thursday’s high school portion of the Drake Relays.
Who’s getting in?
“I probably will,” said Welsch, whose stepson Caden Ungs is a senior at Monticello High School and a qualifier in the boys’ high jump and 110-meter hurdles. “(Kim is) going to try to catch the livestream from a restaurant nearby.
“It’s a tough situation, definitely not ideal.”
No, but with one ticket, the couple has it better than most.
Many fans, most notably parents and families of Iowa high school competitors, will be on the outside looking in — literally, in come cases — at Drake Stadium on Thursday.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Drake is limiting attendance to 3,000 fans per day, about 20 percent of stadium capacity, even though it’s an outdoor venue.
Ticket holders to the 2020 Relays (which was canceled) got first dibs to the tickets. Then it was boosters and alumni.
Any remaining tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday. They were gone immediately.
“I went on exactly when the clock turned to 10:00 sharp, and they were already sold out,” said Theresa McKane, mother of Iowa City West boys’ distance runner Alex McKane.
“I was in disbelief and thought that can’t be right. I thought that must mean they have tickets for parents. Boy, was I wrong.”
Tickets or not, Lance and Shelley Kamaus of Lisbon are heading to Des Moines on Thursday.
“I don’t know if there will be scalpers, or what the market is going to be,” said Kamaus, whose son Cohen Kamaus is the leadoff runner for Lisbon’s shuttle hurdle relay team.
“But I would rather go there and find there was nothing available, than to not go and find out later that there were tickets available.
“We’re really frustrated. But we’re going to go, and we hope we can get in.”
And if not?
“Then I’ll be outside the stadium with my phone and a hot spot and watch it on their app,” Kamaus said. "We’ll be there, even if we’re not in there.”
Same with Welsch and Ungs.
“We’ve got a hotel, and we’ll still go up Wednesday night,” said Welsch, whose wife went online at 10:01 Thursday morning and got the “sold-out” message.
Tickets are transferable, so it’s possible to buy and sell tickets online, if you know the right person. For those who can’t get in, cable station MC22 will televise Thursday’s program live, and it will be streamed at runnerspace.com for a fee.
There are ticket holders out there willing to assist.
Brent Mardis, a 1991 Drake grad and a lifelong Bulldogs booster, has had Relays tickets since the 1980s. His family gave up two sets of two tickets for Thursday.
“I know two of them are going to Waukee fans. I’m not sure about the other two,” Mardis said.
“Both of my kids are in college now, so I don’t have anybody that I need to watch. Chances are that we might not have used them Thursday anyway. Somebody else can enjoy them a lot more than we would.”
Mardis will keep his four tickets for Friday and Saturday.
Relays director Blake Boldon could not be reached for comment Monday.
Alex McKane is a junior, so Theresa knows there’s a good chance she can watch her son at Drake in 2022.
“I feel really bad for parents who have seniors who don’t have this opportunity,” she said. "In a perfect world, I wish they only allowed spectators that actually had a family member running.
“I know there are worse problems in the world, but I’m not going to lie, this one hurt my mama heart.”