Mediacom Stadium opens in time for 2023 debut

Dec 19, 2023

On Thursday, Oct. 12, Des Moines Public Schools kicked off the first competition in the district’s new Mediacom Stadium. It featured a football matchup between Roosevelt High and Waukee, and signaled the culmination of several years of hard work since the project was announced in 2019.

The stadium is the result of a partnership between DMPS and Drake University, who were both looking to offer updated facilities that could support competitive soccer and football teams. The new outdoor facility will host DMPS and Drake University soccer games, as well as DMPS high school football games, with the synthetic turf field allowing daily use. The stadium sits on 4.5 acres and seats 4,000 spectators.

“The previously developed site offered both a challenge and an opportunity,” said Nathan Harris, partner at RDG Planning & Design. “The location was ideal given its proximity to existing facilities and amenities such as parking, restaurant and other destinations, but the site required the vacation, conveyance and removal of an existing street as well as rezoning. The amount of grade change from the north to the south side of the site required a unique solution for a large field to be installed.”

But after announcing the project in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily put a pause on the project and then was largely responsible for unprecedented cost escalation. After the Des Moines Public Schools Board of Education twice rejected over-budget bids on the new stadium in 2021, it hired Story Construction as its construction manager. The team’s first task was to bring the project within an acceptable cost range, and it was able to do so by breaking the project into different areas and isolating costs for each, allowing the team to make educated decisions to balance the scope of work with the project budget. The school board was finally able to approve bids for 20 bid packages in March 2022.

“Story Construction worked diligently to navigate these challenges and deliver a project that maintained high value to the end users,” added Harris.

Construction began in April 2022 with the goal of having all lower-level foundations and the south retaining wall in place, have precast installed, and have of a majority of lower-level site utilities, electrical piping and plumping pipe installed by the end of the year. The focus then shifted to the large amount of masonry work on the project. As the masonry contractor flowed around the site, roofing followed to allow overhead mechanical, electrical and plumbing installation. Painting followed soon after, with specialties and finish items completing each work area. This stream of work was key in making the grand opening happen this fall.

“Jamie and Eli’s dedication to the project was in no small part the reason it was successful,” said Chad Leimbacher, construction manager for Des Moines Public Schools. “Eli was on the ground every day working through issues to keep things moving forward. They conducted themselves with a level of expertise and professionalism that, in my opinion, is rare today.”

The Oct. 12 grand opening featured DMPS pep band performances, remarks from DMPS and Drake University leaders, and ultimately a ribbon cutting before Roosevelt and Waukee faced off that evening.

Delivery: Construction Manager – Agent

Designer: RDG Planning & Design

Project Manager: Jamie Rochleau

Superintendent: Nate Miller; Joe Christensen

Project Engineer: Eli Rochleau