February 8, 2017

As they made last-minute calls to potential voters on Monday, Carroll Stadium Committee members were cautiously optimistic about Tuesday’s levy referendum.

As it turned out, there was no need for the caution part. The $4.45 million stadium measure passed with 75 percent of the vote, 1,995-660.

The estimated total cost of construction is just more than $6.2 million, but the Carroll Community School District has pledged $1.75 million to pay for the new field and track. Carroll and Kuemper Catholic Schools will both continue to play football at the stadium, and it will be open for public use from dawn until dusk when the schools are not using it.

The measure was carried largely by absentee and Carroll voters. Almost 82 percent of early voters cast a ballot in favor of the stadium reconstruction, while 72.6 percent of election-day ballots cast in Carroll Tuesday supported the measure.

Supporters, like Carroll School Board President Jen Munson, said they were surprised by the large margin.

“I didn’t expect it to win by that much,” she said. “I think that tells us that we did a good job getting the information out and getting people to the polls.”

Overall, 26.2 percent of eligible voters turned out on or before Tuesday.

The vote turned out to be an almost polar opposite result of a similar $5 million stadium levy put before the voters almost 5½ years ago in September 2011 when more than 67 percent voted against the new stadium.

No one is completely sure how to account for the turnaround, but committee members who participated in 2011 said they learned some hard lessons from that attempt.

“We felt good about it (this time),” said committee co-chair Jair Mayhall Monday night. “It was one of those things that everyone seemed to be onboard. There were a few people who maybe had questions about it, but I never had anyone come out and tell me, ‘No, we shouldn’t do this.’”

Mayhall said he thinks people responded to the committee’s consistent message and transparency from the start.

“We went through a very long and somewhat arduous vetting process,” he said. “It was open to the public. There were people from the City on the committee, DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) was on the committee, we went to the CADC (Carroll Area Development Corporation) to talk about it, both school boards and administrations — anyone who wanted have input had the opportunity.”

Now that the measure is passed, Munson said, the next order of business for the school board is to start collecting bids as soon as possible in order to map out a workable time line for the project.

The chances of starting construction before next spring are very slim, Munson said. The plan is to miss use of the facility for only the 2018 track season. The new bleachers and turf field would be ready for the 2018 football season.

“We anticipate not having to play football anywhere else, but the track-and-field team will probably have to play somewhere else for one season,” she said. “As soon as the bids are done and track is over we can start construction.”

In addition to the new field and bleacher, the facility will feature new team rooms, concession stands, restrooms, track, press box, scoreboard and storage rooms.

Dozens of individuals donated thousands of hours of their free time to organize, develop and promote the project over the past year, Munson said.

“I’d like to thank the community for the support,” she said. “We really need the stadium for our community, and everyone rallied and gave that support. And a big thanks to both the design and campaign committees.”