There is a new home field advantage in Des Moines: Mediacom Stadium. And the top-notch venue is now open for play.
Students from all five DMPS high schools joined leaders from the school district, Drake University and the community for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 12 to officially mark the completion of the $24 million, 4,000 seat stadium. The stadium, located at Forest Avenue and 25th Street on the edge of the Drake University campus, will serve as the field for DMPS football and soccer along with the Drake Bulldogs soccer programs.
Earlier in the week some “soft openings” took place. The Drake men’s soccer team defeated St. Thomas 2-0 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Lincoln High School football team held practice at the stadium. It was a chance to make sure everything was set up and working as it should before the big day on Thursday.
In welcoming people to the event, Jason Allen, the director of district activities and community education at DMPS who served as emcee, noted: “This new venue marks another in a long list of partnerships between DMPS and Drake University, one that will be a benefit for thousands of our students, along with the entire community, for many years to come.”
Dr. Ian Roberts, superintendent of DMPS, thanked the many people who stayed dedicated and focused on completed the facility since it was first announced four years ago. “A lot happened since this project was announced in November 2019 – from a global pandemic to supply chain issues – but everyone involved never took their eye off the prize. And since ground was broken in April 2022 it has been full speed ahead to make Mediacom Stadium a reality,” added Dr. Roberts. “While I may be new to Des Moines, I know what an important project this has been for both DMPS and Drake. And I am excited to see the result, which is the best facility of its kind for our students.”
Drake University’s president Marty Martin and athletic director Brian Hardin also spoke about the benefits the stadium will mean not only for their own student-athletes but for the community at large. Steve Purcell, an executive with Mediacom, said this was the largest community project the company’s been involved with during his time. In addition to Mediacom, several other key sponsors and supporters were recognized, including the Polk County Board of Supervisors, Casey’s, Fareway, Prairie Meadows, Scheel’s, and the Albaugh family.
Kim Martorano, vice chair of the Des Moines School Board, also thanked the people of Des Moines. “As we speak of partners, I want to make sure some very important, critical partners are thanked: the citizens and taxpayers of our community,” said Martorano. “Their support, by choosing to call Des Moines home, is what makes everything we do possible.”
She then invited students and guests to join in to cut the commemorative ribbon that stretched 25 yards across the field. With scissors in hand, students and adults clipped away at the ribbon, marking the opening as well getting a souvenir of the memorable day.
Perhaps one North High student put it best: “I can’t believe this is for us.”
A couple of hours later, the first-ever high school football game kicked-off as the Roosevelt Roughriders hosted the Waukee Warriors. While the home team came up short, losing 42-14, many aspects of the night were a win for players and fans alike getting their first visit to Mediacom Stadium. The stands were full, a little football-weather chill was in the air, and no doubt people left planning to return for more in the years ahead.