With the explosive growth of pro soccer leagues in the United States has come an explosive growth in new soccer stadium demands, and the latest city to be hit is Des Moines, home to the Des Moines Menace of the semi-pro USL League 2 (the fourth tier of pro soccer) but hoping to move up to USL Championship (the second tier). And where in most of the world the team would need to earn promotion by winning games, in the U.S. there’s an easy shortcut: spend a bunch of tax money to build a soccer stadium and surrounding development complex.
Pro Iowa, a campaign to bring profession soccer to Iowa, along with the real estate arm of Krause Group and the city of Des Moines, plan to use sales and hotel-motel taxes generated from the Iowa Reinvestment Act to help pay for the $535 million project that would include 29 separate projects.
There’s lots of gibberish about “activated plaza space” and “heritage festivals,” but mostly what you need to know is that the Iowa Reinvestment Act allows cities to create special districts where hotel/motel and sales taxes are kicked back to developers to fund the cost of new construction. (Yep, that’s a TIF.) Des Moines city officials aren’t yet revealing exactly how much tax money would be siphoned off and given to the stadium developers, but the Des Moines Register reports that “early discussions” were in the $40-45 million range; deputy city manager Matt Anderson told the paper that “we are still working on the final amount, but it will be much less than $45 million.” (The total cost of a stadium was previously reported at around $60 million.)
The Des Moines city council is set to discuss the project on Monday, at which point maybe we’ll have more details. For now, here’s a rendering of people standing in a combined pedestrian plaza and parking lot — does that make it a woonerf? I’m calling it a woonerf until somebody tells me otherwise: