Des Moines County continues to inch closer to building a brand new indoor sports complex. Just what that complex will look like remains to be seen.
A countywide visioning project conducted about five years ago identified the indoor sports complex as one of the top priorities. The original plan called for a $10 million facility with hard surface courts for basketball/volleyball and turf fields for soccer/football.
Jason Hutcheson, who serves on the steering committee for the complex, said the plan changed in early 2017 when a large, vacant building in West Burlington was identified as a possible site for the soccer/football fields. He said the building offered twice as much space as originally planned without increasing the budget.
So the committee decided the turf fields would be located in that building and the basketball/volleyball courts would be included in a separate facility on SCC’s West Burlington campus.
Hutcheson said the building was eventually purchased and the design work officially began.
“In that process, the contractor came back to us and said, ‘You know what, we have been studying air supported structures and we believe we can give you twice the square footage of playing surface for approximately the same cost,'” said Hutcheson, adding that the contractor asked if the steering committee wanted to explore that option. “Of course we said yes. It’s our duty to evaluate any way we can maximize this project for as few of dollars as possible.”
Hutcheson said the inflatable outdoor dome would be located next to Burlington’s Rec Plex, which is the city’s outdoor sports complex. He said beneath the dome would be about 80,000 square feet of playing surface.
Hutcheson said the inflatable dome is the preferred option of the steering committee, but there is still some research that needs to be done before it is set in stone that the dome would replace the industrial building in West Burlington.
“We have an estimate for the construction, but we really need to turn that into a hard bid and so we need to do some engineering on that site to make sure our assumptions about that site are correct,” said Hutcheson.
“Secondly, we would be building that on property that the city of Burlington owns so we would have to come up with an arrangement to lease that ground from the city of Burlington. That enters into a discussion about operations of the facility and operations of the Rec Plex.”
Hutcheson said the committee hopes to make a final decision on the location of the turf fields within a few months. He said the court facility will remain on the SCC campus.
Hutcheson said even with the additional space offered by the inflatable outdoor dome, the budget for the project would remain at $10 million. He said more than $6 million has already been raised through local fundraising.
Hutcheson said the steering committee has enough money on hand to start construction of one of the two facilities. He said the preferred selection would be the turf facility because it would be much quicker to construct, allowing for indoor soccer tournaments possibly before the end of the year.