The Des Moines School Board unanimously voted Tuesday to reject construction bids for a planned stadium at Drake University because the bids exceeded the district’s budget for the project.
The total cost of the 4,000-seat stadium including construction and planning is projected to be $19.5 million. The stadium, which will be shared by Drake and Des Moines Public Schools, is slated to be built next to the Knapp Center. The district is to pay $15 million from a sales tax fund called SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education), and Drake will raise the remaining $4.5 million through private donations.
The stadium will be used for home football games for four of Des Moines’ five high schools and for high school and Drake soccer games.
Des Moines Superintendent Tom Ahart asked the board to reject the bids because they came in over budget. The bids, which covered only construction, ranged from $17.9 million to $19.3 million.
The bids reflect increases in the cost of steel and concrete due to “inflationary costs” and tariffs, Ahart said. A labor shortage because of the amount of construction locally is another reason for the increases.
The next step will be working with architects to reduce some of the construction costs.
“Our team and Drake’s team are working collaboratively right now to value-engineer the project to remove some of the need for some of the elements that would impact both labor, as well as concrete and, to a lesser extent, steel,” Ahart said. “But the basic stadium project would remain as we’ve portrayed it in the prior months.”
Once the adjustments are made, the plan is to ask for construction bids again in April, Ahart said.
Going back out for bids will delay the stadium’s fall 2022 opening by four to five weeks, he said.
The expectation is the stadium will still “be open for business” in fall 2022, Ahart said.