What is the DMPS Community Stadium at Drake University?
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.
What are the next steps in this plan?
The School Board approved plans for the stadium on January 19, 2021. Construction of the new venue will begin in March 2021 with substantial completion by July 2022.
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 new venue will include new locker rooms for home and visiting teams, a team store for both DMPS high schools and Drake, multiple concession stands and restrooms, a press box, and a playground.
How are you going to pay for it?
Construction costs for the new stadium are estimated to total $19.5 million. It will be funded in part by Des Moines Public Schools, which has budgeted $15 million in sales tax revenue for the project, a revenue stream designated by state law for capital improvements. In addition, Drake University will be conducting a fundraising effort in support of the stadium. On top of that, Drake University will donate land for the stadium site to the school district, as well as manage and operate the stadium once it is completed.
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.
Does this have anything to do with the recent 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.
DMPS dropped plans to build the Northeast Montessori School because of budget concerns. How can you afford to build a stadium?
The budget challenge for the new school was not construction costs, but in staffing and operating an additional school. The money to pay for construction comes from sales tax revenue (which by law cannot be used to hire teachers and staff), and the funds to build the proposed new school were in hand. The problem was, due to years of inadequate funding from the State, cuts had to be made to the district’s general fund. The district could not afford, at this time, to hire teachers and staff to operate an entirely new school. In the case of the proposed stadium, the district’s portion of the construction costs would come from sales tax revenue while Drake University will be covering the operations of the facility.
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, in early November the School Board approved a $5 million renovation of the auditorium at East High School. When it is completed 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.
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.
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, Roosevelt football games, graduation ceremonies and the Boys and Girls State Track meets. The DMPS Community Stadium at Drake University 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.
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.
Is it feasible to have all high schools utilizing this stadium during a football season?
Yes. The new stadium will serve as the home field for the majority of high school home games. In addition, Drake Stadium would be available to hosts games – at no charge to DMPS – to provide even more scheduling flexibility. We have created examples of how both the football and soccer seasons could be scheduled with a new stadium. Click here for an example of a football schedule and click here for an example of a soccer schedule (note: both downloads are Excel files).
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.
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.
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.
Would naming rights be sold for the new stadium?
While the project name is The DMPS Community Stadium at Drake University, naming rights to the facility may be one part of the fundraising campaign.
Will alcohol be served at this new community stadium?
No. Neither Drake or DMPS has any interest in that.