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Buccaneers Optimistic of Future Home
Construction of new stadium
Construction of a twenty-six million dollar stadium in addition to a 150 room hotel behind Merle Hay Mall is planned to commence in fall 2023, where the previous Yonkers was located.
WHY IT MATTERS:
- The new stadium will have the capacity to hold 64 teams, creating a youthful atmosphere that investors are hoping will create a catalyst for business in the area.
- This will be the new home of the Des Moines Buccaneers, who have had issues with their former stadium after the 2020 derecho.
- The Buccaneers are hopeful the new stadium will draw in more high school prospects who often join the Buccaneers before going to the college or pro league.
- This new stadium is projected to create 1,000 jobs and draw 370,000 visitors a year.
BETWEEN THE LINES:
- CEO of Merle Hay Mall Liz Holland put an emphasis on youth engagement in the local area saying in a press video, “Youth sports and youth activity are such a vital part of the community, and in partnering with the Buccaneers we felt like we could really put Des Moines on the hockey map.”
- Investors are hopeful this stadium will be a catalyst for attracting youth and business.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:
- Drake student Griffin Dyka, who is the president and founder of the Drake hockey team, says hockey taught him important life skills such as patience, leadership, and teamwork. Skills Dyka tries to implement into his life every day. The Drake hockey team currently practices at the RecPlex in West Des Moines. When asked about his experience with ice rinks in Iowa need an upgrade. , Dyka said, “ I’ve seen worse, but Iowa rinks could use some renovations. I believe it’s important to have hockey rinks for those who enjoy hockey, skating, and for those who want to try.”
BY THE NUMBERS:
Merle Hay’s master plan. Courtesy of Woolpert/ Special to Register https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2022/05/18/merle-hay-mall-des-moines-buccaneers-arena-ushl-groundbreaking/9811645002/
- Construction of Merle Hay Mall started in 1958. “The mall was known as Northland Shopping Center early in its planning stages until Younkers executives suggested that it be named for Merle Hay, the first Iowan killed in World War I and namesake of the road in front of the mall…” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merle_Hay_Mall#cite_ref-6
Diversity on the Track
Runners in the Drake Relays come from throughout the world
The Drake Men and Women track team is full of diversity with runners around the world competing in the upcoming Drake relays.
Drake Relays brings in numerous competitors from around the world to Des Moines, Iowa, showcasing their athleticism to thousands of onlookers. In 2022, ticket sales were at a record high of 14,504 according to Drake athletic communications. Contestants range from highschool to college athletes who seek to compete in top track and field events in the nation.
Drake men’s track and field team has 8 athletes from different countries, and the women’s team has 12 athletes from different countries. This is around a quarter percentage of the team (24% for men, 36% for women).
Brooke Mullens is a junior transfer student from Australia who will be competing in the 3000m steeplechase during the Drake Relays. Mullens said,
“Back home, track and field and cross country is a very individual sport, but here we work as a team and foster a team culture. Everyone on the team is supportive and are trying to achieve goals.”
Athletes discussed challenges coming to school here such as the visa process, long zoom calls with various coaches, NCAA eligibility requirements, tests and transcripts, all during a pandemic which limited travel. Mulleuns said,
“I took two summer classes to be NCAA eligible, and luckily, weaved through Australia’s state border restrictions during COVID, to acquire my visa.”
Tyla Lumley, a Sophomore transfer student from Australia who is currently injured and will not be able to compete in the Drake Relays said,
“There was a very long process of finding the right school and lots of zoom calls with lots of coaches, as well as the visa process. Because of covid, the travel process was super difficult, but it all worked out.”
Sophomore Chiara Belfico from Italy enjoys the Drake community and close connections.
“Drake was small compared to other universities. It’s easier to connect with people and professors. I like that here you can always have someone to run with or train in general. And I love that we have an AT and treatments always available. Back home if I want a massage or I want to do an ice bath I have to go to a specific place and pay for the entrance fee.”
Training materials are not the only thing Belfico would be paying for.
“Here (at Drake University) it is very different from back home. In Italy we don’t have collegiate teams/sports. University is just something apart, you go there just for classes and then you go back home. Sports are separated, and each city has multiple teams that you can decide to join (and pay for it).”
Junior Anastasia Kirillov from Argentina said, “There are lots of different personalities on the team, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Getting to know how other athletes approach the sport and life has really helped me. I was very surprised coming here that teams have that much structure, and there is so much to being on a team outside of practice and that being on a sports team is actually something well regarded and recognized by the university.”
Drake track athletes are looking forward to watching their teammates compete this April as well as participate in the numerous activities and festivals on campus. Kirillov said,
“Seeing so many people celebrate the sport, I think the combination of track and field events with general campus festivities gives an opportunity for our sport to be more visible. Even though here in the Us track and field is way way bigger than at home as a sport, it still lacks visibility compared to other sports.”
Outside Drake’s stadium. Photo taken by Nikalaus Huerter.