MAY 1 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR
It’s heartwarming, this spirit of sports cooperation that has emerged between the state in which I grew up and the state in which I live.
Way back in December 1998, when I first began typing weekly sports columns for the Express, I was asked to give my column a name.
After a bit of thought, I came up with “Home Stretch.” It seemed to fit in a couple of ways, and still does. First, it is a nod to my favorite sport, horse racing. Second, and more meaningfully, it depicts the “stretching” of my “home,” from my roots in Minnesota to my nearly decade-and-a-half residence in Iowa.
So it brings me joy to see my two “home” states working together in the world of sports.
It started with the Cedar Rapids Kernels Class A baseball team, which ended its affiliation with the Los Angeles Angels and established a new one with my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, beginning with the current season.
Recently, there have been two more collaborative efforts. The Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines will be the new home of the Minnesota Wild’s minor league hockey team.
I often have to explain about the Wild. Yes, they are in the National Hockey League, and play against the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. In fact, the Wild opened the Stanley Cup playoffs this week with a series against the Blackhawks.
And yes, “Wild” remains one of the worst nicknames in all of professional sports.
Still, it is my team. And the Wild’s minor league affiliate, formerly the Houston Aeros, will move to Des Moines to become the Iowa Wild.
Finally, the thoroughbred racing tracks in Minnesota and Iowa have struck a deal for a unique sharing opportunity.
At Prairie Meadows in Altoona, races that were restricted only to Iowa-breds are now open to Minnesota-breds as well. Conversely, Minnesota-bred races at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. will also be open to Iowa-breds.
The purpose is to extend the racing season – and earning opportunities – for both. State-bred races usually have enhanced purses in order to help strengthen each state’s breeding industry. Prairie’s season started a month before Canterbury’s, and Canterbury will still be running a month after Prairie’s thoroughbred season ends.
Two states, working together for the good of both. It makes me smile.
Now if we can just get those Gophers, Cyclones and Hawkeyes to get along….