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Menace still shopping for home


Despite the Urbandale City Council’s unanimous defeat of a proposal to work with the Stadium Foundation to build Liberty Bank Stadium, Urbandale Mayor Brad Zaun remains an adamant supporter of the project and is willing to help other communities build a new home for the Des Moines Menace soccer club.

“I was disappointed we couldn’t get it done here, but I support it 100 percent, wherever it goes,” Zaun said. “We spent about $50,000 in legal fees to write a very unique agreement, including hundreds of hours of staff time trying to bring it here. I told our council members we need to share what we have done with other potential cities to help save them some money and keep the project in the Des Moines area.”

That kind of devotion, in addition to 37 acres of land, among other things, is what Stadium Foundation officials are looking for in a city that might be interested in being home to a one-of-a-kind soccer stadium in the Midwest: a facility that also would host concerts and other entertainment events, as well as high school-, college- and professional-caliber soccer matches. Sharon Krause, Stadium Foundation director, said stadium officials are “aggressively talking” with a handful of Des Moines metropolitan communities, including Waukee, Altoona and Ankeny.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed it didn’t work out in Urbandale, but the merits haven’t changed and we feel we have a terrific business model in place,” she said. “We’ve talked with concert promoters and soccer groups to find out what it takes to create these events so we can design a multi-purpose facility and reach out to a broad base of people.”

Krause said stadium officials have contacted “virtually every community in the metro area,” but “not everybody has what it takes” to build a stadium. Krause said they’re looking for a location that is accessible to patrons, preferably near a major highway; and a community willing to support the project’s finance and land needs. Krause estimated the project will cost between $20 million and $22 million, but finding a location with enough land has been an obstacle.

“At this point, we’ll talk to anybody who’s interested,” she said. “We’re anxious.”

Krause would not rule out the possibility of renewing discussions about a partnership with Drake University officials to bring the Menace to a renovated stadium on the college campus. “They have a fantastic stadium project planned,” she said. “We haven’t talked to them recently, but we’ve talked in the past.”

Plans for a soccer-specific stadium, only the fifth of its kind in the country, would include a state-of-the-art field, club seating, 31 corporate suites and a full-service press box. The 6,000-seat facility could host to a variety of soccer events and tournaments. Its seating capacity can be expanded to up to 15,000 for concerts. A winter season bubble would enclose the playing surface to permit events to be held year-round.

Krause said officials plan to have a short list of potential candidates to present at the next Vision Iowa meeting June 11. They may need to renegotiate the $2.5 million in funding they received from Vision Iowa.  Though stadium officials are eager to find a home for the Menace, Krause said there are no plans to scale back the project to make it less costly. They hope to secure a deal by this fall with aspirations of opening the new stadium by May 1, 2005.

“It’s a good project and I’m confident we’ll get it done even if it’s taking a little longer than we hoped,” she said.

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