What is Mediacom Stadium?
This new partnership between Des Moines Public Schools and Drake University will develop an athletic facility to be used by both educational institutions. It will provide a first class competitive playing field for middle school and high school sports, such as football and soccer, an on-campus home for the Drake Bulldogs soccer teams, and potential community uses.
What will this mean for Des Moines Public Schools?
DMPS students deserve school facilities that are as good as any place in Iowa. This project will provide a first class venue to be used by all of our middle schools and high schools in Des Moines. The new stadium will be the home field for the Hoover, Lincoln, North and Roosevelt high school football (East will continue to use Williams Stadium in an agreement with Grand View University), and will be the competitive stadium for all five high school soccer programs. In addition, it will be available for a range of other high school activities, from marching band festivals to rugby matches. As middle school activities have expanded in Des Moines in recent years, the stadium will also be available for those schools’ football and soccer games.
What will this mean for Drake University?
The new stadium will provide the university with an on-campus home field for the Bulldogs men’s and women’s soccer teams, a priority for Drake athletics.
What will this mean for the community?
The stadium will provide Des Moines with a new venue for for a variety of competitions and events. More importantly, it is one of the many exciting developments underway both on campus and throughout the Drake neighborhood.
How many people will the new stadium hold?
4,000 permanent seats are being planned in the new stadium. In addition, the design incorporates some overflow seating.
What other features might be included in the new stadium?
The plan for the new venue includes locker rooms for home and visiting teams, a team store for both DMPS high schools and Drake, multiple concession stands and restrooms, and a press box.
What about parking?
Drake hosts a variety of large events every year with significant parking needs, including school-related events such as the Drake Relays, football games, graduation ceremonies and the Boys and Girls State Track meets. The new stadium will have access to parking on and near the Drake campus, with parking on Drake’s nearby designated surface lots available for evening DMPS events.
When will the stadium be ready for use?
Our goal is to redesign, rebid, and construct the Community Stadium in time to host athletic events beginning sometime in the Fall of 2023.
Do shared facilities like this work for larger districts and if so where?
Shared facilities are often used in large school districts across the nation. Among school districts in Iowa that have multiple high schools, examples include three high schools in Cedar Rapids playing at Kingston Stadium, three high schools in Davenport playing at the Brady Street Stadium, both Ankeny high schools competing at a single stadium, and three high schools in Sioux City sharing a stadium with Morningside College.
Are there efficiencies to sharing a facility rather than each school operating their own site? Why not just update the current stadiums?
The new stadium makes better use of school district and community resources by developing one first-rate facility rather than trying to update and maintain multiple sites. The district cannot afford to develop and maintain athletic facilities at each high school which compare in quality to neighboring school districts. One significant cost alone would be the installation of synthetic turf, which is the norm at most metro area football stadiums but in Des Moines is only at East High School (thanks to its agreement with GVU). In addition, other challenges with the existing high school stadiums range from a lack of parking to ADA compliance issues to locker rooms and a lack of general amenities. This will also end the current expense of renting Drake Stadium for Roosevelt’s football games. When these factors are combined with the on-going maintenance and operational costs associated with multiple stadiums, a new central stadium is a more cost efficient way to make sure more students are able to use a quality facility.
Would the current high school football fields be eliminated?
No. Schools would continue to use their existing natural grass fields for practice purposes or bringing feeder school programming to the high school campus. In addition, as plans are underway for the new stadium, the district is also conducting a study to make improvements and upgrades to athletics facilities at all five high schools. In April 2021, the Athletic Facilities Committee released a report with their findings and recommendations.
What improvements might not get done at schools because the district invests in a centralized facility? Does the school district have a master plan for school facilities?
As DMPS invests tens of millions of dollars each year to renovate and improve our school buildings and related facilities, a new athletic facility that could be utilized by multiple schools has been a priority for the past several years. The school district maintains a 5-year plan for school improvements. As a result, the new stadium will have no impact on any planned school projects.
How is the project being funded?
The project’s budget is approximately $24 million. DMPS is providing $15 million from funding dedicated for facilities while Drake is contributing around $8 million. In addition, Drake will provide daily operations and maintenance of the stadium, at no cost to DMPS, and has donated the land for the stadium to the school district.
How do other school districts fund stadium upgrades?
Many have used the state-wide sales tax and/or private fundraising. In most cases those school districts have only one stadium to upgrade or replace, whereas DMPS has several.
Shouldn’t this money be spent on schools?
Des Moines Public Schools has spent hundreds of millions of dollars during the past two decades to make improvements and renovations to every single school building in the district. In fact, since DMPS began receiving sales tax revenue for school infrastructure in July 2000, $631.3 million has been spent to improve school buildings and facilities throughout the district. $0 in sales tax revenue has been spent to improve existing stadiums or build new stadiums during that same time.
This is all about sports. What about the arts?
In the school district’s current five-year plan for school facilities, millions of dollars have been spent on both performing and learning spaces for arts education. For example, the auditorium at East High School recently underwent a $5 million renovation. The auditoriums at all five comprehensive high schools, along with six middle schools, will have been renovated under the current plan. This includes everything from new lighting and sounds systems to seating for audience members. On top of performance venues, existing art and music classrooms have been renovated or new ones created from one end of the school district to the other. Finally, several hundred DMPS high school students participate in marching bands each year; not only is the new stadium where they perform for football games, it also provides a new venue to host one of the many marching band festivals held across Iowa.
Why did Des Moines Public Schools originally reject bids for the stadium?
Initial bids received for the construction of the stadium were above the budget established for the project. Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) and Drake worked with the project design team to design a project that would come in on budget. However, factors such as increased material costs and availability resulted in construction bids that exceeded the project cost estimates.
Does the rejection of bids have anything to do with a legal challenge brought by opponents of the Community Stadium?
No. The earlier decisions to reject bids for the stadium was based solely on the commitment to construct the facility within the established budget.
UPDATE: On July 2, 2021 an Iowa District Court granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. Click here to read a copy of the District Court’s decision. On November 18, 2022 the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision. Click here to read the Supreme Court’s decision.
Does this have anything to do with the 2019 vote to extend PPEL?
No. The Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) is used to pay for maintenance of school buildings along with a variety of equipment needs, from technology and security to school buses and musical instruments, and has nothing to do with the new stadium. The recent vote to extend PPEL means an additional $6.5 million for DMPS to use for student technology. Currently those costs are covered by the general fund. PPEL will help lessen (but not eliminate) some of the projected budget cuts in the coming years. Funding for a new stadium would be part of the district’s planned use of sales tax revenue, money that is dedicated to the construction and renovation of school buildings and facilities.
How would student transportation be handled at a centralized facility like this? Would there be DART access for events?
For students competing or participating in events, school bus transportation would be provided to schools for their events on an as needed basis. For students attending games and events, there is DART bus routes to the Drake campus and available for free to DMPS students.
Who would be responsible for concessions?
For high school games, the high schools would handle concessions and receive all profits.
How would DMPS and Drake prioritize multi-use activities?
The new venue provides increased opportunities for school, university and community activities and events. The goal will be to utilize the facility every day possible.
Would there be an on-site manager? Who would maintain facility? Who would be responsible for scheduling the facility?
The stadium will be managed by Drake University staff. The DMPS activities director and Drake athletic director would coordinate scheduling of the new stadium.
Would naming rights be sold for the new stadium?
The new stadium will recognize major sponsors and donors to the project. Some examples recently announced include Mediacom Stadium and Albaugh Family Field, in recognition of financial support to Drake University for the stadium, and Prairie Meadows Gate, in recognition of a grant to DMPS for the stadium. Click here to read more about those recognitions.
Will alcohol be served at this new community stadium?
No. Neither Drake or DMPS has any interest in that.