DES MOINES, Iowa — For the first time in years, Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) opened a state-of-the-art sports facility, Thursday night.

The all-new Mediacom Stadium opened at the corner of 23rd Avenue and Forest Avenue on the Drake University campus. It becomes the home of Roosevelt, North, Hoover, and Lincoln High School football and soccer teams, and will serve as the new home of Drake men’s and women’s soccer. It will be the first time the Bulldogs have ever had a dedicated soccer stadium on campus.

While Drake donated the property, contributed to the cost of construction, and will be responsible for the upkeep of the facility, many DMPS families objected to the use of district dollars on a new sports stadium — particularly one that will require fans to travel out of their respective communities to use.

Athletic directors ask fans to give it a chance.

“I wish it was at Hoover, right?” said Hoover AD, Jacob Burke. “Everybody of course wants this type of thing at their school, but when you have five high schools that’s not very likely to happen for each school. But when our kids come out on a brand new facility on a college campus and walk out on the field I think they’re gonna say ‘this is a pretty cool place to play football.’”

North High School AD, Chad Ryan agrees.

“I know our soccer community is super excited about this stadium and I think our football community will be — once we get in here and play a game — they’ll be excited about this stadium.”

DMPS communications director, Phil Roeder asks that everyone attend a game at the stadium before making a final judgment.

“When you listen to the skeptics and any criticism about it, it’s adults,” he said. “The kids come in here and you literally see their eyes widen when they see the kind of facility that they now get to call their home field.”

Drake athletics director, Brian Hardin, also sees upside for DMPS schools and their fans.

“Because there’s not a track here, you’re so much closer to the action. I love the hillside seating. Once the grass grows in, that’s going to be a great place for families to come.”

Hardin also points out that the facility will provide new and better opportunities for other groups of students at DMPS and Drake.

“There are ways that this is gonna benefit more than just student-athletes — band, cheerleaders, dance, our student media, other clubs, other organizations — it’s going to be a fantastic addition to Des Moines.”