DES MOINES, Iowa — Already pushing $15 million in SAVE funds for the $19 million community stadium for soccer and football, the Des Moines school board unanimously approved a joint contract agreement where Drake University would fund the rest and the maintenance.
“In all honesty to level the playing field for our local high schools this is something, an entity that has been needed, a faculty needed for quite some time,” said Jason Britten who lives a block from the proposed site which is east of the Knapp Center along Forest Avenue. Britten believes he already sees a non-sports benefit. “To continue to raise property value as will happen if you have a facility that brings in people from multiple quadrants from the metro area,” he said.
Despite a petition garnering over 7,000 signatures, board members on Monday said it isn’t enough to send it to a public vote. Many who signed it weighed in virtually saying it will drain current schools’ home field traditions and camaraderie. Roseanna Olsen said, “It’s almost like a version of church and the community stadium is not going to fit that bill.”
For Khaled Abdalla, owner of nearby Fernando’s Mexican Grill on University Avenue, the 4,000 seat venue is an opportunity for new business. “It is a great opportunity. More people and more traffic. Hopefully, when they come and eat here they say this a good place and there’s a lot of choices and they will come back,” said Abdalla.
DMPS says renovating all stadiums could cost $60 million. Supporters point to suburban schools with much newer stadiums like Johnston’s $9 million Dragon Stadium. Britten said, “I don’t think you are losing a home-field advantage, I think you are gaining the advantage of a better facility at quite a reduced cost.”
School bus transportation will be provided for students competing or participating at the stadium. For those wishing to cheer on their classmates, DART buses are free to DMPS students and will be dropping them off across the street from the future stadium. I don’t want to see a child from Lincoln, from North from Roosevelt or Hoover to not have the exact same opportunity to flourish in our community,” Britten said.
Des Moines East will continue to play at Williams Stadium where they have a similar shared agreement with Grand View University. The earliest the community stadium would host football games would be the fall of 2022 according to DMPS Superintendent Tom Ahart.