|Iowa Barnstormers (AF2)|
|Head coach||John Gregory|
|Home arena|| Veterans Memorial Auditorium |
Wells Fargo Arena
|City, State||[[Des Moines, Iowa]]|
The Iowa Barnstormers are an arena football team based in Des Moines, Iowa. They are currently members of the Arena Football League (AFL), which they joined in 2010 following the organization's restructuring. They play their home games at Wells Fargo Arena, known in arena football circles as "The Barn".
Several teams called the Iowa Barnstormers have played in the AFL or its developmental league, af2, since 1995. The original team played in Des Moines' Veterans Memorial Auditorium from 1995–2000, and subsequently relocated to Uniondale, New York, where they were known as the New York Dragons. The following year Des Moines was awarded an af2 franchise that carried on the Barnstormers name and branding, but the team suspended operations after the end of the 2001 season. In 2008 a new Barnstormers team began play in the af2, now based in the new Wells Fargo Arena; this team joined the new AFL in 2010 following the league's reorganization.
On April 25, 1994, the Arena Football League approved an expansion team to be based in Des Moines, Iowa, starting with the 1995 season. The team was to be owned by Jim Foster, the inventor of arena football and the founder of the Arena Football League. On May 12, 1995, the Barnstormers played their first regular season game, on the road against the Milwaukee Mustangs. In a wild finish that saw both teams combine to score 24 points in the final 40.4 seconds of the fourth quarter, the Barnstormers won, 69-61. The next weekend, May 20, 1995, the Barnstormers played their first regular season home game against the Miami Hooters at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, winning 41-29.
Behind the strength of AFL Coach of the Year John Gregory, the Barnstormers would race to a 3-0 start and secure the fifth seed for the playoffs. After upsetting defending ArenaBowl champion Arizona, 56-52, in their first playoff game, the Barnstormers would fall, 56-49, to sixth-seeded Orlando in the semifinals.
After an 0-1 start to their second season, the Barnstormers would win their first division title, capturing the Central Division crown on the strength of eight consecutive wins to close the season. After edging St. Louis and Albany in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the top-seeded Barnstormers would drop a 42-38 heartbreaker at home to second-seeded Tampa Bay in ArenaBowl X.
In 1997, the Barnstormers would repeat as Central Division champions with an 11-3 record, including a 61-38 road thrashing of the rival Storm to avenge the previous season's ArenaBowl defeat. With the second seed in the playoffs, the Barnstormers would avenge a regular season defeat against seventh-seeded San Jose, 68-59, before racing past fourth-seeded Orlando 52-34 to reach the franchise's second ArenaBowl in three seasons. However, in ArenaBowl XI, Arizona would use a 42-13 scoring stretch over the middle two periods to roll past Iowa, 55-33.
Star offensive specialist Willis Jacox would retire after the 1997 season while star quarterback Kurt Warner would sign with the St. Louis Rams of the NFL. Forced to rebuild after losing the eventual two-time NFL MVP, the Barnstormers would limp to an 0-5 start in 1998. After acquiring Aaron Garcia from New Jersey, the Stormers would improve, and a three-game winning streak sparked by Garcia and rookie sensation Kevin Swayne would put the Barnstormers into playoff contention late in the year, but they would falter and finish 5-9, their worst season in their time in Iowa.
In 1999, the Barnstomer resurgence under Garica continued, with Iowa winning nine of their last ten regular season games (following a 2-2 start) to capture their third Central Division title in four seasons and secure the second seed in the playoffs. A thrashing of division rival Milwaukee in the quarerfinals coupled with eighth-seeded Orlando's 41-19 shocker at Tampa Bay set Iowa up at home against the eighth-seeded Predators with a chance to advance to another home ArenaBowl. However, Orlando would continue its shocking run to ArenaBowl XIII with a 56-49 upset of the Barnstormers.
The 2000 Barnstormers would put up startling offensive numbers, as Garcia would throw for 92 touchdowns against just 8 interceptions, with 46 of the touchdowns going to Mike Horacek. Despite this prolific offense, Iowa would start slowly, losing three of their first four games. However, a five-game winning streak would return the Barnstormers to the thick of the playoff hunt, and Iowa would go on to win their fourth Central Division crown in six seasons of play, earning them the third seed in the newly expanded playoffs. However, Iowa's playoff run would come to a quick end on a Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals, as sixth-seeded Nashville would score the final 14 points to defeat Iowa, 49-42.
The need for a more modern venue as well as the league's desire for a larger market led to the move to New York despite two failed past attempts in the city, the New York Knights (1988) and the New York CityHawks (1997-1998), both of which played at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The team was purchased by Charles Wang, who is also the Islanders' majority owner and re-named the New York Dragons.
Aside from the league's desire to re-enter the New York market, another major reason cited for the team's relocation was the inadequacy of their Des Moines venue, the Iowa Veterans Memorial Auditorium, also known as "The Barn". Most of the seats in this venue were located directly along the sidelines as is typical of high school sports venues. The Barnstormers organization constantly lobbied for the construction of a better facility during their time in Des Moines to no avail.
The Arena Football organization awarded an af2 franchise to Iowa for the 2001 season, which continued the Barnstormer name. However, low attendance (less than half of the average of the AFL franchise) and a relatively poor season (a five-game winning streak to close the season wasn't able to turn a 4-7 start into a playoff berth) would lead to that franchise suspending operations following their first season.
On September 20, 2007, the af2 announced that they had approved the inactive franchise's new ownership, meaning that the Barnstormers resumed play in 2008 at the Wells Fargo Arena. They hold practices at the historic Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and they inherited the tradition of the original Barnstormers. The team adopted the original unique uniforms, which in keeping with the aviation theme included the depiction of goggles on the helmets, wings on the shoulders of the jerseys, and propellers on the pants legs. The mascot, a dog named Ace, is featured in this helmet, along with the uniform jersey and pants.
After being on hiatus for six seasons, the Barnstormers played their first regular season game of 2008, falling at the Louisville Fire 58-28 on March 29, 2008. The following week, they would return home for a Monday Night primetime match-up with the Lexington Horsemen on April 14, 2008. In the debut of Arena Football at the Wells Fargo Arena, the Barnstormers lost a close 43-41 contest. The next week, Iowa won their first regular season match-up since 2001 (their 75th overall), defeating the Quad City Steamwheelers 58-38 on April 19 in Moline, Illinois. The team would win their first home game at the Wells Fargo Arena on April 26, 2008, defeating the Stockton Lightning 47-24.
On September 28, 2009, the Barnstormers announced their status as a charter member of the new Arena Football League, marking their return to playing top-notch arena football after almost a decade of lower levels and inactivity.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties
|Iowa Barnstormers (AFL)|
|1995||7||5||0||2nd AC Central|| Won 56-52, American Conference Quarterfinal at (Arizona)|
Lost 49-56 American Conference Semifinal vs (Orlando)
|1996||12||2||0||1st AC Central|| Bye American Conference Quarterfinal|
Won 52-49, American Conference Semifinal vs (St. Louis)
Won 62-55, American Conference Final vs (Albany)
Lost 38-42, ArenaBowl X (Tampa Bay)
|1997||11||3||0||1st AC Central|| Bye American Conference Quarterfinal|
Won 68-59, American Conference Semifinal vs (San Jose)
Won 52-34, American Conference Final vs (Orlando)
Lost 33-55, ArenaBowl XI (Arizona)
|1998||5||9||0||3rd AC Central||Did Not Qualify|
|1999||11||3||0||1st AC Central|| Bye American Conference Quarterfinal|
Won 66-34, American Conference Semifinal vs (Milwaukee)
Lost 41-48, American Conference Final vs (Orlando)
|2000||9||5||0||1st AC Central|| Bye American Conference Quarterfinal|
Lost 56-63, American Conference Semifinal vs (Nashville)
|Iowa Barnstormers (af2)|
|2001||9||7||0||3rd NC Midwest||Did Not Qualify|
|2002||On Hiatus Did Not Play|
|2008||6||10||0||5th AC Midwest||Did Not Qualify|
|2009||12||4||0||1st AC Midwest|| W 70-53, American Conference Quarterfinal vs. (Manchester)|
L 51-46, American Conference Semifinal vs (Green Bay)
|Iowa Barnstormers (AFL)|
|*2010||7||9||0||4th NC Midwest|
|Total||88||56||0||7-5-0 Playoff Record||Overall Record (Regular Season & Playoff) 95-61-0|
Record vs. OpponentsEdit
Note: Includes Playoffs Home Record: 44-30 Away Record: 45-23
Historically, the Barnstormers have ranked high in home paid attendance. In the Arena Football League, they finished 7th in 1995, 8th in 1996, 9th in 1997, 8th in 1998, 9th in 1999, and 9th in 2000.
The Barnstormers have averaged 10,418 per game in home paid attendance throughout the team's history.
Iowa Barnstormers roster
| Offensive linemen
Rookies in italics
- John Gregory, Head Coach
- Ryan Sloth, Assistant Coach
- J.T. Smith, Assistant Coach
- Jack Whitver, Assistant Coach
- Jeff Lamberti, Principal / Owner
- Matt Strawn, Principal / Owner
- John Pettit, General Manager
Notable former playersEdit
- Aaron Garcia - QB
- Gary Howe - OL/DL
- Mike Horacek - WR/LB
- Willis Jacox - FB/LB
- Kevin Kaesviharn - WR/DB
- Kevin Swayne - OS
- Kurt Warner - QB
AFL Hall of FamersEdit
- 13- Kurt Warner
- ↑ Witosky, Tom (2007-09-20). "Barnstormers revived as af2 team". The Des Moines Register. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:AWNB:DMRB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=11BCECC6EF53C8A0&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0D0CB57AB53DF815.
- ↑ Official Team Press Release: Barnstormers Back Where We Belong!
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "John Gregory Iowa Barnstormers profile". Iowa Barnstormers. http://theiowabarnstormers.com/coaches.cfm?PlayerID=14. Retrieved 2009-06-27.[dead link]