Updated Apr 16, 2021 - News

Iowa lawmakers kick off political soccer scuffle in Des Moines

This proposed 6,300-seat stadium near 15th and MLK is part of Krause Group's plans to bring professional soccer to DSM. Rendering courtesy of City of Des Moines

Iowa lawmakers this week reworked a line item in a budget bill (see page 18) so that a $1.5 million fund can be used for "professional sporting events."

Why it matters: Democrats contend the money is an earmark for the only sports lobbyists registered in support of the bill: Krause Group.

  • CEO Kyle Krause, who also owns Kum & Go and the Des Moines Menace, has wanted to bring professional soccer to Iowa for 10+ years.
  • The company plans to build a $60 million stadium in downtown DSM.

What happened: The change was made by Senate Republicans in a nearly $107 million infrastructure bill, partly using money from taxes Iowa collects on sports betting.

  • The money is part of the state’s sports tourism program under the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
  • It was previously limited to local governments to enhance sports projects, like those at universities.

Between the lines: Democrats argue the move is evidence that the GOP is out of touch with the needs of average Iowans in favor of wealthy political allies.

  • "If we can only give $80,000 in additional money to ELL students in our school system, then we have absolutely no business giving millions to Kyle Krause’s stadium," Sen. Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines) told Axios.
  • Krause and his wife have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to legislative candidates in recent years, mostly Republicans, per the Des Moines Register.

The other side: Sen. Craig Johnson (R-Independence) told Axios that the change isn't an earmark and would allow the soccer project to compete for the money, like virtually all sporting events.

  • Krause Group lobbied for the legislation and intends to apply for grant money from the fund if it passes, a spokesperson told Axios.

What’s next: The bill could be considered by the full Senate as early as next week.

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