Last spring a group of friends was playing cards and got to talking about how great it would be to take one vehicle to football games instead of five or six.
They envisioned a camper, but the plan changed when one of the friends, Rick Sweet, read in the newspaper that the Centerville Community School District had a 2001 school bus for sale.
Sweet put in a bid of $1,800, thinking that might not be enough, but soon the bus was his.
Sweet and his wife, Amy, are Iowa State fans. He was born and raised in Des Moines, and she was born and raised in Story City, north of Ames. They moved to Centerville 13 years ago when he took a job as operations manager at Wells Distribution Center.
But their adopted home has lots of Iowa fans — including their son, Brady.
“Half of our friends like Iowa and half like Iowa State, so somebody said, ‘Let’s make it half and half so everybody gets to enjoy it,’ ” Sweet says. “We’re proud of both colleges — we love it when Iowa or Iowa State wins as long as they’re not playing each other.”
So Sweet painted “Cyclones” on one side of the bus and “Hawkeyes” on the other. He plans to decorate the inside as half Hawkeye and half Cyclone, split down the middle. This summer he picked up some mustard-colored church pews from eBay — luckily, yellow represents both schools.
The Sweets are Iowa State season ticket holders, and they and their friends will mostly be taking the bus to Iowa State games, Kansas City Chiefs games and festivals.
Sweet is also a coach for his daughter Abby’s traveling girls’ softball team. For insurance reasons he can’t transport the team in the bus, but the girls can use it to relax in between games at tournaments.
He plans to install two kitchenette areas, a deck on back for a barbecue grill and DJ speakers — all the amenities of a tailgating camper in a bus that grabs people’s attention.
“I get a lot of feedback on the Iowa and Iowa State thing,” he says.