A pair of gigantic projects in Iowa's capital city are getting closer to reality.

The first involves a new ice hockey arena for the Des Moines Buccaneers who play in the USHL, the same conference as the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Like the Roughriders, the Buccaneers home arena was damaged by last summer's derecho.

The Buccaneers stadium won't, technically, be new construction. At least not all of it. The hockey team will be playing in the long-vacant spot at Merle Hay Mall that was previously occupied by Younkers. Business Record says plans call for a 3,500-seat arena that will also have three other sheets of ice. All three of those will include bleacher seating, where practices, games, and even tournaments can be held. The Buccaneers are expected to play in the new arena starting with the 2022-23 season.

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Plans for the Merle Hay Mall area also include a 150-room hotel, a new food court, and new Kohl's store. The existing Kohl's location will be displaced by a multi-sport training and competition center, according to We Are Iowa.

Earlier this summer, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) gave a $26.5 million grant to the project. Five entities were behind the request: Des Moines and Urbandale (Merle Hay Mall sits in parts of each city), the Des Moines Buccaneers, Merle Hay Mall, and Polk County. Business Record reports the entire project has an estimated cost of nearly $130 million.

The second project getting closer to reality is a 6,300-seat soccer stadium in the 200 block of S.W. 16th Street in downtown Des Moines. The site, which was once home to Dico Inc. and has been determined to be contaminated, is currently being cleaned by Des Moines and the federal government. The stadium project would also include a new plaza area adjacent to the stadium, more soccer fields, parking for approximately 500 vehicles, and a hotel.

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On Tuesday, August 24, the Polk County Board of Supervisors approved a contribution of $5 million toward the downtown stadium project. If the city of Des Moines donates at least $1 million to the project, Polk County will chip in another $1 million. If other local communities donate at least $1 million, Polk County will match that as well, meaning the county could donate up to $7 million.

The soccer stadium would be home to a United Soccer League Championship (USL) franchise. The league currently has 31 teams. Some of the league's games are televised by ESPN2.

The total cost of the stadium, plaza, parking and hotel portion of the redevelopment of the old Dico Inc. area would be approximately $84 million. In late June, the IDEA gave the project $23.5 million. USL Soccer says "the project has now raised more than $50 million through private and public funding." The entire planned redevelopment of the area would cover 65-acres and could cost nearly a half-billion dollars, according to Soccer Stadium Digest.

Construction on the new soccer stadium should start in the spring of 2022 with the Des Moines team beginning play in 2024.

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