Basketball courts

The West Des Moines Recreation Center will have basketball courts, esports, and more.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. Des Moines University, not DMACC, will have a physical therapy clinic in the RecPlex.

The only limit to the massive new RecPlex from West Des Moines’ MidAmerican Energy Company is imagination.

Inside the $45 million, 300,000 square foot building at 6500 Grand Ave. are four basketball courts, three pickleball courts, a full-size indoor soccer field, an esports center and two skating rinks. But the installation is not limited to these sports – almost any surface can be repurposed for a different activity.

The indoor grass pitch can become a 90-yard soccer field, three smaller-sized soccer fields, two softball fields, or an area for families to set up chairs and enjoy movie night. Next door, three basketball courts can be converted into six volleyball courts.

Inside the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex in West Des Moines on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The Hy-Vee Fieldhouse features four full-size basketball courts or eight full-size volleyball courts.  It can also accommodate batting cages, pickleball and an indoor turf area the size of a football field.

At the other end of the building, a small lawn can accommodate four batting cages – which drop from the ceiling when in use. It can be used as a small baseball or softball practice area, or as a room for playing kickball or taekwondo.

Even the main rink can be converted from its smooth, icy surface to a 20,000 square foot event space that can accommodate up to 2,500 people.

From August through April, however, the two rinks will be reserved for hockey and skating, one of the main reasons why West Des Moines decided to open the huge facility.

“The driving force behind this facility was the need for ice,” said RecPlex general manager Shayne Ratcliff, who gave the Des Moines Register a tour of the new facility as it prepares to open in October.

Inside the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex's second indoor rink with bleachers seating 300 people, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in West Des Moines.

Already, 10 hockey tournaments are reserved for the RecPlex this season.

Most hockey games will take place in the main rink, which seats 1,500 people. A second rink will also have year-round ice, but in addition to hockey, it will be used for ice skating lessons and public skating programs. Both rinks are the same size, although the secondary rink can accommodate around 300 people.

Following:See the planned $30 million indoor soccer and hockey complex in West Des Moines

The building is part of West Des Moines’ westward expansion. Located near the West Campus of Des Moines Area Community College, the facility is approximately three miles from downtown Jordan Creek. The University of Des Moines will use 5,000 square feet in the RecPlex for a physical therapy clinic.

The RecPlex is about 40% complete, Ratcliff said. It will host a grand opening on October 3, by which time the majority of the facility should be complete and ready to book.

But Ratcliff has already been busy answering calls for space. The companies have applied to lease the building’s 3,500 square feet of meeting space, which can be divided into three smaller spaces. Open spaces on the second floor have been reserved for indoor sack leagues, while some have requested to use it for fencing matches.

MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex also has a 3,500 square foot esports center with 30 high-powered PCs, seen here Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in West Des Moines.

Ratcliff said he expects the gym to be popular for rentals as well. The 3,500 square foot space includes two virtual reality stations, two PlayStations, two Xboxes, and 33 PC gaming stations. It can be used for birthday parties, corporate events or esports tournaments.

Outside there are three additional grass football pitches which have been used by the teams since March. The facility still has room on its 66 acres to build two additional sod fields, an outhouse and a concession pavilion.

The entire building and outdoor grounds are equipped with free Wi-Fi that can accommodate thousands of users simultaneously.

With all of these amenities, Ratcliff said the West Des Moines facility is unique.

“When we look across the United States, we don’t see anything that ticks all of those boxes with esports, with outdoors, with indoors, and year-round flexibility,” he said.

The project was financed through a public-private partnership. About $14 million was raised in naming rights, sponsorships and donations, primarily by MidAmerican, whose facility is named, and Hy-Vee, who sponsored the covered lot. Hotel/motel tax revenue paid for remainder of project.

West Des Moines owns and operates the facility, using a corporate fund from the Department of Parks and Recreation.

But the RecPlex is expected to attract visitors and events beyond West Des Moines and Dallas County, Ratcliff said.

Three grass football fields sit outside the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in West Des Moines.

A few games from next year’s State Games of America, a biannual Olympic-style event, will take place at the RecPlex. The event is sponsored by Iowa State University from July 27-31, 2022 and is expected to draw 14,000 athletes to Ames and metro Des Moines, according to its website.

The National Intercollegiate Athletic Association Men’s Volleyball Championship will be held at the RecPlex in April.

“I think what people forget is the regional draw, the national draw that this is going to bring,” Ratcliff said. “It’s so much more than sports for young people.”

City Manager Tom Hadden said the facility fills a need in the city for additional programming, drop-in sports and team practices. Between tournaments, he said visitors will bring income to the city when they stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and visit local businesses.

“You’re filling a local need and a regional need for teams to train and stuff,” he said. “…We can have these kinds of regional get-togethers that get a lot of people staying at our hotels and eating at restaurants.”

Visitors can go to the RecPlex website to view rental availability and to see a schedule of walk-in games.

Sarah LeBlanc covers the western suburbs for the registry. Contact her at 515-284-8161 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @sarahkayleblanc