The timeline for USL Pro Iowa's plan to bring a USL Championship club to Des Moines, Iowa have been pushed back to a 2023 start date, but leader Kyle Krause remains optimistic regarding the $95 million overall development project.
DES MOINES, Iowa – The COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact on USL Pro Iowa’s plans to join the USL Championship, but the ownership group’s leader Kyle Krause is adamant it will not derail the efforts the organization has already made to bring professional soccer to Des Moines.
“Whomever I talked to about the project, I don’t care if it was an elected official or a person on the street, they’ve been very supportive of what we’re doing,” Krause told the Des Moines Register’s Dargan Southard. “I think that part we continue to have through what we’re dealing with today. We have people working and volunteering every day. The support is good. It’s just there have been other things to work on for the last couple of months – and there are still things to work on. But we continue to meet internally, externally and keep moving forward.
“I’m not going to be naive to the fact that we’re sitting here in a recession doing this. That’s probably not ideal. But I’m still optimistic. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be having us spend the time to make it happen. We will get it done.”
USL Pro Iowa’s original aim was to join the Championship for the 2022 season, competing in a 6,000-to-8,000-seat venue. The stadium is set to be part of a $95 million overall development that would also include a five-story office and retail building, restaurants, a street-level plaza and a 500-space parking garage.
Major progress was made this past December when 7.4 acres of land located just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and west of Southwest 14th Street were acquired for $7.98 million. The land added to the four acres acquired by Blackacre Development across Southwest 14th Street last August.
While the projected start date is now the 2023 season, however, Krause has been assured by USL leadership that there will be a place waiting for the new club in the Championship.
“We asked the league, ‘OK, we have this burning platform of there’s a window today to get limited franchises up in the Championship League,” Krause told Southard. “If we push back a year, is that OK with you? Do Des Moines and the state of Iowa still have that opportunity to get a team?’”
“And they said yes. A defiant, strong yes. Their logic was 'Gee, you’re not alone.' ... And they love Des Moines, central Iowa and the state Iowa, as well as our experience as an ownership group. They were still very bullish on Des Moines as a franchise.”
And Krause is arguably even more bullish on the importance of completing the work that will bring the club – and the larger development project – to Des Moines.
“Having a project that’s shovel ready – a project that can drive economic development like our project does – will be important,” Krause told Southard. “It’s more than $70 million in spending on construction. It’s got an annual substantial payback from an economic development standpoint.
“Our opportunity today is saying there are a lot of great reasons to build the stadium, a lot of great reasons to have a Championship League team in Des Moines. But maybe the most paramount reason today is we’re going to want and need that economic development opportunity and a magnet for additional economic development [once coronavirus is under control]. The challenge is how do government, individual and corporations spend their money? The economic development got that much more important.”