Apr 13, 2023 - News

Soccer site needs a $15M environmental cleanup

Illustration of a soccer ball made out of a patchwork of different bill denominations.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The necessary environmental cleanup of the site of a proposed professional soccer stadium will cost "north of $15 million," city manager Scott Sanders told the Des Moines City Council last week.

Why it matters: The $84 million stadium project is the centerpiece of a roughly $500M plan to redevelop a downtown site that's been vacant and blighted for decades.

  • It's still unknown who will pay for the cleanup.

Catch up fast: The 200-acre site near 15th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway was the previous location of a Dico steel wheel manufacturing facility and chemical/pesticides formulation plants.

  • Vacant buildings on a 43-acre segment were finally demolished in 2021 after years of negotiations between the site's former owners, city officials and the EPA.

Driving the news: Pro Iowa and Krause+ — Kum & Go's real estate arm — propose building a 6,300-seat stadium at the site.

  • Project officials have secured millions for the project, including $23.5 million from the state and $7 million from Polk County governments.

Yes, but: The stadium opening was delayed a year, until 2025, due to supply chain and cost challenges, project officials announced in June.

  • Even the new date may be a stretch.
  • Officials estimated construction will take 18 months. Yet, as of yesterday, they've still not finalized a development agreement with the city or taken ownership of the site.

Zoom in: Chemicals in the soil are currently contained via existing surface asphalt or building foundations.

  • Federal rules require the soil to be replaced or further contained to avoid human exposure prior to new development.

Of note: The city and the EPA's work is complete and future work is on hold until development agreements are in place, deputy DSM city manager Matt Anderson tells Axios.

  • For example, a groundwater improvement project that will be overseen by the EPA requires site-specific development plans, assistant city manager Pam Cooksey told the council.

What they're saying: Remediation costs will be incorporated into the total project budget, Dan Jansen, program manager for the Iowa Soccer Development Foundation, tells Axios.

What's next: It's still unknown what the city's requested contribution towards the project may be or how soon a development agreement will go before the City Council, Anderson says.


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