As you may have seen in the news lately, the Iowa West Field House is officially open for league and tournament play! Opening weekend Jan. 13-15th was a huge success, with both youth volleyball and basketball teams taking to the brand-new hard courts for games. Nearly every court was in use and families packed the surrounding bleachers and stools to take it all in.
Many who entered the building for the first time were wowed by what they saw, and one couldn’t miss the smiles on their faces as the local teams now have a home facility to be proud of. On behalf of the Foundation, it was gratifying to see the community so appreciative of the new field house, which features 8 full-sized hardwood basketball courts or 12 full-sized volleyball courts. Some have said Council Bluffs has needed this for years. Community assessment studies, which we use to guide our strategic plan, told us such, which is one of the reasons we invested in the Field House.
Following a national search, the Omaha Sports Academy was selected as the official operator, with life-long Council Bluffs resident Nate Dix, serving as the General Manager. OSA’s mission is to provide a fun, athletic environment that promotes healthy competition and the development of positive life skills through quality instruction, service, and facilities. It was key for the Foundation that the operating partner also see a commitment to the community as a priority, and that is evident in OSA’s commitment to allow the local COBRA youth sports programs as well Council Bluffs’ YMCA youth sports basketball and volleyball programs to play there for free or reduced rates.
From the beginning, our goals for the field house were not only to provide access to southwest Iowa sports teams but also to drive economic development in the Mid-America Center and tourism in Council Bluffs. One of the ways to accomplish this is regional and national weekend tournaments that draw families from out-of-town and result in “heads in beds” at surrounding hotels in the area. Already, OSA officials have 12 tournaments scheduled between April and August. Approximately 30 weekends from now until December are booked up, with the goal to bring that number closer to the high 40s for the year.
This is exactly what we hoped would happen when the Foundation announced the initiative in November of 2015. We are excited for the community to share in this regional asset with us and invite individuals to attend upcoming events at the Field House. First, Omaha Sports Academy will host a job fair targeting southwest Iowa youth for part-time positions including referees and scorekeepers on Saturday, Feb. 4th from 8:30-10:30 a.m. There also will be a ribbon cutting and public open house celebration on Thursday, Feb. 9 from 5-7 p.m. Hope to see you there!