MidAmerican RecPlex officially opens with grand opening ceremony
Shaking legs, Joe and Eli, seven and five, stepped on the ice for the first time.
Their mother, Elizabeth Elliott, smiled behind a clear divider at MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex on the facility’s open house Sunday as her sons used ice skating coaches to slowly cross the rink.
“We just wanted to see the ice and have a place for the boys to play,” said Elliott.
The West Des Moines family have joined hundreds of others who have visited the RecPlex for its grand opening, and many are planning to return now that the $ 45 million, 300,000 square foot building is officially open to the public.
Several city council members, including West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer, kicked off the event with a groundbreaking ceremony. City Councilor Renee Hardman stayed five more hours, handing out Gatorade water bottles to visitors and helping hand out freebies, including RecPlex-branded t-shirts, sunglasses and key chains.
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Hardman said she looks forward to using the RecPlex for the occasional indoor walking and pickleball game. And if she ever needs physical therapy, she’s happy that Des Moines University has a clinic inside the facility. The clinic was also open on Sunday to show visitors the services it offers to athletes and non-athletes.
Over the next several weeks, residents will be able to rent space on the full-size indoor synthetic turning pitch, as well as slots on the esports center’s gaming PCs. The centre’s two indoor rinks are accessible year-round for free skating and hockey.
“The RecPlex is the perfect fit for this community because it draws on such a diverse range of interests,” said Hardman. “It’s a wide range of recreational activities for the wide range of citizens we serve.
“Awesome” summed up Marty Rogers’ first impressions of the establishment. He brought his 12-year-old grandchildren, twins, to see the space and said he plans to be there often to take his grandson to hockey games. Rogers lives a few minutes from the building.
“With him playing hockey, we always had to run downtown to get to where the Buccaneers play, and now he’s going to play here,” he said. “It’s very useful.”
During the open house, families had the opportunity to try out all aspects of the RecPlex, with the exception of the hardwood courts. This included the virtual reality headsets, in which Miles, 7, was so immersed in an alternate landscape that he stumbled to the ground.
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Miles’ mother Sarah Lake said her favorite part of the building was the ice rink. Miles, she said, was the center of esports.
“It’s exciting to have that here,” she said. “I don’t think we have anything like this in Des Moines.”
The Des Moines Curling Club took over one of the rinks on Sunday to give curling lessons. The club is moving to the RecPlex at the Metro Sports Facility in Urbandale to hold its winter and fall leagues.
“It’s beautiful,” said Kate Ross, the club’s president. “We are very happy to have a new home.”
As he watched people attempt to push granite boulders across the rink, West Des Moines resident Peter Loyd said he hopes to return with one of his adult children to play pickleball when the grounds will be open.
“Anything we can do to improve fitness in our culture, to keep people healthier, is a great idea,” he said.