A new Iowa West Foundation initiative has resulted in planning for a new indoor turf facility for southwest Iowa athletes of all ages.
Pending approvals by the Council Bluffs Planning Commission on Tuesday and the City Council — likely later this month — the 75,000-square-foot building will be located south of 23rd Avenue in the Mid-America Center entertainment district on property south and west of Quaker Steak and Lube, 3320 Mid America Drive.
The multi-sport complex has an estimated cost of $7 million, with funding coming from the Iowa West Foundation and other grant sources.
Dubbed the Iowa West Sports Plex, the facility will be operated and managed by the Council Bluffs Soccer Club.
The artificial turf field will be the size of a regulation youth 11 v 11 soccer field, with the ability to be separated into multiple smaller fields for 3 v 3, 5 v 5, and 7 v 7 soccer matches.
Set up for 11 v 11 or 9 v 9 teams, there would be a single field. Separated, the space would allow for three 7 v 7 fields or six fields for 5 v 5 or 3 v 3 teams
The fields can also be used for youth baseball, softball, flag football and other sports in addition to soccer as well as adult leagues.
Current plans call for approximately 160 parking stalls in a lot to the south of the Sports Plex.
“Similar to what we’ve witnessed with the Iowa West Field House, the Iowa West Sports Plex will provide a much-needed home for our young athletes to be able to play the sports they love all year round and not have to travel outside of our community to do so,” said Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation.
Now approaching its third year of operation, the Iowa West Field House hosted competitive events 35 of the 51 weekends following its opening, including 25 events where the field house was booked Friday through Sunday. Iowa West spokeswoman Nicole Lindquist said more than 250,000 people passed through the field house doors in the first 12 months of operation and helped result in nearly 1,700 hotel stays in the area.
Though final figures for the field house are still being compiled for 2018, Bob Franzese, co-owner and general manager with the Omaha Sports Academy, which operates the field house, said the number of visitors to the field house topped the 300,000 mark in 2018.
During the coming months, Franzese said the Field House will partner in a robotics tournament, host a junior NBA event and host an Under Armor Youth Qualifier.
“The placement of the facility within the Mid-America Center entertainment district will only continue to add to the synergy happening in that area,” Tulipana added. “Our secondary goal is to stimulate more private development in the surrounding area.”
Shane Hoss, treasurer of the Council Bluffs Soccer Club and a volunteer coach, grew up playing sports in Council Bluffs and said he’s grateful his hometown will soon be home to a multi-sports complex that the community so desperately needed and will be able to afford.
“There’s been a need in the soccer community for quite some time. Baseball needs it just as much, and so do the softball and flag football teams,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity for all kids to play in a state-of-the-art facility, and we couldn’t have done it on our own. This IWF initiative will ensure that the facility is built with no debt. Local kids won’t have to pay premium prices to practice or play.”
Hoss said the Council Bluffs Soccer Club will hire a full-time employee to manage the facility and will also hire part-time workers.
Stacy Nelson of Council Bluffs, the mother of multi-sport athletes, noted the similarities between the success of the Iowa West Field House and the potential for the Iowa West Sports Plex.
“We want or kids to be involved in Council Bluffs clubs, but if we don’t have the facilities to practice and play year-round, it limits our options,” she said.
“The Field House has given us something we can be proud of, and it brings in so many additional people to the area,” Nelson added. “It will be great to have this new facility not only as something to be proud of but also to attract other clubs from around the metro who then eat here, stay here and shop here.”