The following is a statement from Drake University in response to legislation approved by the Iowa Senate to change the law in regard to approving school district athletic facilities:

“It is surprising and extremely disappointing that state legislators have chosen to usurp a unanimous decision made by locally elected school board members and retroactively change the law for the explicit purpose of targeting this vital community project,” said Marty Martin, president of Drake University. “It will be regretted for generations to come if the state effectively denies Des Moines youth the advantage of a fully accessible and modern competition facility, as so many of their peers around the metro area and state already enjoy. Considering that Des Moines is the most diverse school district in the state, this targeted and unprecedented action raises serious concerns regarding our state officials’ commitment to equity and inclusion for all Iowa citizens.”

As a proud partner of Des Moines Public Schools, Drake University believes the community stadium project will be exceptionally beneficial to DMPS students. In choosing this path for their centralized stadium, Des Moines school board members recognize the value Drake brings to the table, including the donation of land to the district worth an estimated $2.5 million, a commitment to raise an additional $4.5 million toward the construction cost, and absorbing operating expenses. The latter will provide significant savings to the district’s annual operating budget. The stadium represents an opportunity for Des Moines—including Drake University—to invest in our city’s youth.

When complete, the DMPS Community Stadium will provide five high schools and ten middle schools a fully ADA accessible, top tier competition stadium for football and girls and boys soccer. Along with athletes of these two sports, cheerleaders and marching band members will have the special experience of performing in a beautiful new stadium. Studies prove that extracurricular activities lead to higher student achievement, and pairing these activities with a university partner will unlock untold possibilities. Indeed, it is in this spirit that Drake University collaborates with the By Degrees Foundation to bring Findley Elementary students to our campus to spark dreams that will carry them through to a college degree. Likewise, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Iowa, Drake University opened the Gregory and Suzie Glazer Burt Boys and Girls Club last August, only the second club in the country that is on the campus of a private college or university. Additionally, Drake is home to Iowa’s largest Head Start program, providing high quality early childhood education to more than 900 three- and four-year-old children.

Des Moines school board members believe a centralized competition stadium is the most compelling use of taxpayer dollars earmarked for infrastructure expenditures through the SAVE program. Drake University stands ready to help make this stadium a reality. Together we transform lives and strengthen communities.