Indoor turf facility plans to be developed

The Sioux Center City Council gave its blessing for the community’s joint-use committee to move forward developing plans for such a facility after a half-hour discussion at its meeting Tuesday, March 17

SIOUX CENTER—An indoor turf facility may be part of Sioux Center’s future.

The Sioux Center City Council gave its blessing for the community’s joint-use committee to move forward developing plans for such a facility after a half-hour discussion at its meeting Tuesday, March 17.

“It’s fabulous, a great idea,” said city council member Dale Den Herder.

The joint-use committee is comprised of representatives from the Sioux Center School District, Sioux Center Christian School, Dordt University and the city of Sioux Center, which together operate facilities at Open Space Park in Sioux Center.

City administrator Scott Wynja explained the general concept would be to design a dome/bubble type of structure about 450 feet long by 250 feet wide in size that could be used for an array of activities such as soccer (youth and adult), recreation programming and activities, lacrosse, regulation softball games and practice (possibly two fields), baseball practice, football practice, community wellness programs, physical therapy, strength and agility programs and rentals.

“As our community continues to grow, we see a need as far a future facilities,” Wynja said, noting the idea of an indoor turf facility has been reviewed throughout the past year. “We live in a community that has winter for a number of months and the comments based on some of our community surveys is the interest for a year-round facility and as offering a place for other recreational opportunities.”

Wynja said a recreational gymnasium could be another possible need in the future but the committee leans toward an indoor turf facility first as it provides a community attraction for a variety of activities.

“It was an historical marker when adding the ice arena to the All Seasons Center,” said Dordt University president Erik Hoekstra, via conference call. “I’ve been astounded to see how youth hockey has grown and how many families come to Sioux Center because of that program. I don’t want to over use the ‘Field of Dreams’ and the Iowa metaphor but I truly believe if we build this, youth will come in terms of youth soccer, league soccer and the utilization of a facility like this for softball as well.”

Hoekstra continued, “This is not something just for athletics; it will do that but that’s not our heart. Our heart is to be a good citizen and I think a community asset like this will be one of the best uses of resources we could add.”

He noted that with the university’s master’s degree program in sports leadership, Dordt is preparing students to run facilities like this and that many of Dordt’s coaches have facility management background.

“With that in mind, we’d like that Dordt not simply have co-ownership but also be a part of the operational/managerial aspect because I think we could add value to that and had value to our education,” Hoekstra said.

Dordt’s athletic director Ross Douma added that the university’s recreation center closes at midnight.

“Most of the time folks playing soccer, which is every opportunity they can have, play right up to midnight,” he said. “

Also, when the recreation center opened 23 years ago, the university had 205 student athletes; this year it has 560.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” he said. “Our ability to serve our own student athletes as well as the community has been compromised. I believe there’s a tremendous market for a facility like this.”

Howard Wilson, Dordt’s vice president and chief administrative officer, said trips to other similar facilities has been eye opening.

“We found those other cities to be magnets for activity, be it hotels, meals, but also they bring new life to the community,” he said. “One in Sioux Center could serve a very broad area in northwestern Iowa.”

District superintended Gary McEldowney said the Sioux Center School District is excited for such a project as well.

“As our district and Sioux Center Christian continues to grow, it’s been really exciting to see growth of all our programs that’s impacted our own athletic teams, but I’m excited that facility like this could have an impact outside of the school day to improve skills,” he said. “It’s a transformational and seems to be right in step with the vision the city council has led with forward thinking.

“It’s something that does exist in western Iowa, in smaller communities and I think it will be astounding the amount of use this facility will provide, from the smallest of kids to age levels who may not go to Siouxnami (Waterpark) or the ice rink,” he continued. “As a district, we’re appreciative of being at the table and talking through how we could do our part to make it work.”

Wynja said if progress continues and plans are approved this year, construction could begin in the spring of 2021.

“New things require some leaps of faith but also require predicting and projections and cost estimates — that’s really the next step to explore those in more detail,” said mayor David Krahling. “What I’m hearing is no strong objections to continue to take the next step to research. We look forward to hearing more in the future.”