Kyle Krause, whose family owns convenience store chain Kum & Go, announced on January 27, 2022 that he had signed a franchise agreement with the United Soccer League (USL). The USL is the Tier 2 men’s soccer league in the United States, second only to Major League Soccer. The team will compete at the USL Championship level.
“We are thrilled to bring a new professional football club here,” Krause said in a press release. “This is a great opportunity to add another attractive perk to living in central Iowa.”
The USL is the governing body for several leagues nationwide, including the USL Men’s League Tier Two Championship League, USL League One Tier Three, USL League Two Pre-Pro Tier Four, and the Super League USL – the level -two women’s soccer league.
Des Moines already has a League 2 team, the Menace, which is owned by the Krause Group, the parent company of Kum & Go which also owns the Italian football team Parma Calico 1913. The Menace are the defending League 2 champions and play Valley. High school in West Des Moines.
“I didn’t expect a USL team to come to Iowa,” said Bradan Allen, men’s soccer player at Drake University. “With the success of the Des Moines Menace over the years, it had to happen. There are so many young footballers out there, and having a professional team that those players aspire to is huge.
Krause said in the press release that they could not have brought a team to Des Moines “without the foundation laid by the Iowa football community.” He said the Menace’s support and success was a “key factor” in creating the environment to “support a USL championship club.”
In September 2019, Krause began working with the USL to add a team to Des Moines. The deal, however, was dependent on the development of a home stadium. Over three years, Krause raised $50 million of the targeted $75 million through donations and government support, which supported the finalization of the franchise agreement.
The 6,300-seat stadium will be at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy and SW 14th St, on the demolished Dico Superfund site. The surrounding area will be known as the Stadium District and will include housing, restaurants, offices and retail.
Dan Jansen, head of the development initiative, said the project would cost around $500 million and take 20 years, but they were pressured to finish early.
Jansen said the project was slow because they had to work with the EPA and the city to remove “polluted buildings” on the site.
Naomi Hamlett, economic development coordinator for the city of Des Moines, said that while the city and the Krause Group agreed on the “general plan”, the final development plan was not agreed upon and that the land still belongs to the city. .
According to a 2019 feasibility study conducted by Johnson Consulting and paid for by Pro Iowa, a booster group for the USL project, the stadium would generate $10 million in expenses and $3 million in additional revenue per year. The study also claims that the stadium should be economically self-financing in the first five years.
“The new Pro Iowa Stadium will be a crown jewel not just for the USL, but for football in the United States,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a press release. “The Krause Group’s experience operating football clubs here and in Europe will help this new franchise become a source of great pride for the people of Des Moines and the State of Iowa.”
The as-yet-unnamed team plans to begin play in the spring of 2024. Krause Group communications director Cait Suttie spoke about the fan events.
“The audience is [going to] watch this team build from nothing,” Suttie said. “Every time we hire people, as we start getting players, that kind of stuff, coaching staff, whatever, it’s all going to be new and expanded.”
Pro Iowa builds excitement and a fan base by hosting watch parties for the United States Men’s National Team, helping build mini soccer fields, handing out fan gear and allowing fans to help choose the team name and logo.
“Des Moines has always supported the teams she’s had, the [Iowa Cubs] and our various hockey teams… it’s really exciting to see a new sport and a high level professional sport being played in Des Moines,” Suttie said.