Local officials celebrated the new Iowa West Sports Plex with a ribbon cutting Thursday afternoon at the $8.5 million recreational facility on Mid-America Drive south of Quaker Steak & Lube.
The 75,000-square-foot Sports Plex features a regulation youth soccer field with artificial turf that can be divided into multiple sections and can also be used for youth baseball, softball, flag football, lacrosse and other sports, as well as for adult leagues in multiple sports. The upstairs features additional seating and a viewing area for parents and families.
The facility opened on July 6 after a successful fundraising campaign, according to Arian Haddix, executive director of the Council Bluffs Soccer Club, which operates the facility.
“We moved in debt free,” she said.
That will allow the club to offer programming and facility use without charging high rates, Haddix said.
“Our goal is to provide opportunities to all players, regardless of ability to pay,” she said.
Haddix thanked the Iowa West Foundation for launching the initiative with its lead gift of $4.5 million.
“This facility is another opportunity for our city to shine, and we thank you for that,” she said.
Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh said the Iowa West Sports Plex “compares favorably with any facility in the region.”
With its turf field that can be used for multiple sports, the facility will help draw visitors and money to Council Bluffs, Walsh said.
“Youth sports is a major driver of tourism in Council Bluffs,” he said.
That means more income for hotels, restaurants, retail stores and attractions in the area and more sales and hotel/motel tax revenue, Walsh said.
Drew Kamp, the new president and CEO of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, said that, after only four days on the job, he has been impressed and encouraged by what he has seen in Council Bluffs.
“I’ve seen so much excitement and so many good things happen,” he said. “Places like this are so attractive – not only to local people, but to people hundreds and hundreds of miles away. During my tenure, I have every intention of being a collaborator who builds partnerships to move the community forward.”
In addition to the Iowa West Foundation gift of $4.5 million, the initiative landed a $400,000 Community Attraction and Tourism grant from the Enhance Iowa Board and a $50,000 grant from the Southwest Iowa Foundation, as well as grants from the Peter Kiewit, Robert Daugherty, Sherwood, Walter Scott and Lozier foundations, noted Pete Tulipana, outgoing president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. Pottawattamie County and the City of Council Bluffs each allocated $25,000.
The impetus for the project grew out of a strategic planning effort by Iowa West in 2011-12 in which the foundation collected public input on what kinds of recreational amenities the city needed, Tulipana said. The priorities that emerged were the trails system, a new YMCA, and indoor field house and an indoor turf facility. Joint planning has produced a master plan for area trails, and the new YMCA, Iowa West Field House and Iowa West Sports Plex have now been completed.
Council Bluffs Soccer Club was established in 2016 with the merger of Council Bluffs Futbol Club and Council Bluffs Youth Soccer Association. The club is a community-based, volunteer organization supporting recreational and competitive soccer under the Iowa Soccer Association, the United States Soccer Federation and the United States Youth Soccer Association.
The club’s mission is to offer a first-class soccer club to help all youth maximize their soccer experience with a safe atmosphere for practice and play; quality, professional training; and well-organized game competition that is developmentally appropriate for all levels of play.
The club is governed by a board of directors. Staff includes Haddix; Adam Sanchez, director of coaching and player development; and Joyce Bartels, recreational league director. Haddix was in nonprofit management for more than 11 years, played soccer in high school and college and had been involved with the Council Bluffs soccer community as a player, coach and secretary of the CBSC Board of Directors.