- Associated Press - Saturday, May 3, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some Des Moines school officials are eying a Superfund site near downtown Des Moines - one of the city’s most environmentally troubled sites - for construction of a multi-use stadium.

The proposed stadium would be built on the former Dico Inc. manufacturing plant site, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1hnaAHD) Saturday. Building on the site, which is prime riverfront property with views of the downtown skyline, would hinge on brokering a deal between the site’s current owner and environmental regulators, who have been fighting in court for years.

Decades ago, industrial chemicals linked to cancer leaked from the Dico plant into the city’s water supply, landing the site on the federal government’s Superfund list.

Superintendent Tom Ahart says the stadium project will move forward only if the health risks are eliminated.

For some, the prospect of spending millions on a stadium raises questions about school funding priorities.

“The stadiums arms race doesn’t make much sense to me,” former school board member Graham Gillette said. “You have to provide facilities that facilitate learning and education. That should come first.”

School officials have not studied the cost of a new stadium. But Bill Good, school district chief operations officer, estimated a new stadium could cost about $9 million, based on what other districts have spent recently on athletic facilities. At the earliest, the school district could break ground on a new stadium in two to three years, he said.

Ahart said officials envision a stadium for multiple uses, including football, track, soccer, band competitions and maybe even concerts. It could also serve as a secondary location for NCAA and other track events, he said.

Several options exist to pay for the project, officials says, including using a 1-cent local option sales tax, from which the district collected about $24 million last year, or a special tax levy that allows the district to buy land, buses or other equipment. There are also state and federal incentives that go toward the redevelopment of environmentally contaminated sites, officials said.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com