Activities Director Jeff Bissen Talks Potential New Complex

Kevin Tucker's picture

As many local residents know a new complex is up for a vote. The ballots are in and you can vote at the courthouse from 8 AM to 4:30 PM until April 3rd. All registered voters 18 and older who live in the GCSD can vote on the complex.


Glenwood’s Activities Director Jeff Bissen answered a couple of questions I had regarding the new sports complex. Enjoy!


What is the biggest reason Glenwood, Iowa needs a new sports complex?


“Our complex is no longer ADA compliant with the current ADA standards, our complex is outdated, the current complex is in need of some repairs and our complex does not efficiently handle the crowds we have been getting (parking, restrooms, concessions and bleacher seating for home and away fans). The opportunity to build new would make our stadium ADA compliant and solve many of the current problems we have with our current complex and set up. We can all agree there are some areas that need addressed immediately so by doing it all at once we don't have to pick and choose what is most important and it will save us cost over time to complete this project at one time. A new complex would serve many purposes for our current sports teams, our band program, our youth programs and the community.” AD Jeff Bissen

How big of an impact does this complex have on the future of the town?


“If this complex were to pass I think it would be a huge economical driving force for the community and our town. The endless hosting opportunities would bring more and more people to town to watch events as well as stay in Glenwood if we were able to host 2 day tournaments. A new activities complex could help bring in new families who are looking at moving to Southwest Iowa and Western Nebraska as we would now have similar complexes to Lewis Central, Treynor, Plattsmouth, Council Bluffs and Bellevue. The pride a new complex brings our school district and community can't be measured.” AD Jeff Bissen


Why is this a good time to build a new sports complex?


“The time is right to build this complex because it is needed. Our current complex is 50+ years old. Our track was last repaired for the 2000 season and has a life expectancy of 12-15 years and we are going on year 17. The bleachers were built in the 1960's and are not handicap accessible as there are no hand rails on the bleachers and no seating for the handicap. The current bleachers are starting to show their age and some are in need of repairs. The press box was built in the 1960's and is need of some upgrades to better accommodate workers, coaches and the press. Our public restrooms no longer meet ADA standards so in order to meet those standards we have an ADA compliant port-a-pot. Our field is in pretty good shape but we are very cautious early in the season about playing on it when it is wet because of the wear and tear it gets with the 7th-12th grade football programs as well as the marching band competitions we host. A new turf field eliminates that concern and allows for many other groups to take advantage of the space as well as will save us maintenance cost and time to maintain the current grass.” AD Jeff Bissen

How safe is our current complex and will the new complex be more handicap accessible?


“Our current complex is functional and safe, but it could certainly be more safe. Our current handicap parking is inside the main gate which requires 2-3 people to help with traffic flow to get cars parked before games. Our bleachers do not have handicap accessible seating therefore those in wheelchairs have to sit along the rail which limits traffic flow. If they do not sit in the bleachers then they sit behind the chain link fence which obstructs their view. The home bleachers lack handrails which prevents many handicap and elderly from getting to the seat of their choice. Lastly, our restrooms are not ADA compliant so handicap have to use a port-a-pot if they need to use the restroom during home events.” AD Jeff Bissen


Who will benefit from the complex?


“Many groups of people would benefit from a new complex. Over 600+ 7-12th grade kids in the activities of Band, Football, Cheer, Dance, Cross Country, Track & Soccer would practice and perform at this complex. This number doesn't include the K-8 elementary PE classes who use the facility for class, it doesn't include the elementary track & field day numbers, it doesn't include the number of walkers and runners who use it for exercising daily nor does it include all the other community events & YMCA activity days that are hosted there. If the proposed stadium passed, youth football, youth soccer, the baseball and softball programs and others would use it whenever possible. It is safe to say over 2500 Glenwood people use the track & field on a yearly basis and that doesn't include the thousands of people who attend events or compete from other schools at the complex each year.” AD Jeff Bissen


How old is the current complex? How long SHOULD the new complex last?

The following were built in:

Track last resurfaced in 2000

Stadium/Bleachers- 1960's

Press Box- 1960's

Concession Stand- 1980's

Field house- 1960's

Football Field- 1960's


“I would like to think that the new complex would last another 40-50 years. The turf field has a life expectancy of 11-13 years depending on how many times it is used.” AD Jeff Bissen


A lot of other schools and communities have upgraded their outdoor facilities lately, what is the reason behind that? Good timing?


“I don't know if I can answer to everyone's situation but I can speak to what I have heard in speaking to them about our proposed complex. Most of them just knew the added benefits it would bring their school district, activities program, youth programs and communities so they felt their time and situation was right to upgrade. All the Activities Directors I have talked to about turf always mention the benefits of now being able to have different groups use the field, the maintenance cost savings it brings the district and the sense of pride it creates within the community. Lewis Central and IWCC partnered to make their complex happen. Council Bluffs (TJ/AL) just raised 15 million dollars privately to make their multi-phase activities project happen. Missouri Valley used some sales tax money and then a voted PPEL to make their complex happen. Harlan privately raised funds for their complex. Denison used PPEL & SAVE funds & Treynor used SAVE funds.” AD Jeff Bissen


Besides the football field that will be used for Band Performances, Football and Soccer, what else can it be used for?


“The football field will be used by the band for practice in the fall, halftime performances and band contests. The football team will use it daily for practice and games. Soccer will have the option to practice there and play games there when needed due to it being too wet or in preparation for an opponent who will play on turf (for the 2018/2019 seasons 9 of our 15 boy's soccer games & 12 of our 17 games will be on turf (Missouri Valley, Lewis Central, Johnston, ADM, Harlan, Treynor, Carroll Kuemper, Denison, Abraham Lincoln, & Thomas Jefferson)). Our Lil Rams youth football program will be able to use the field for practice and games when our our high school team is not on it. Youth soccer, baseball and softball can use it when it is not being used by our other programs. The Middle School can use it for 6th grade recess as well as the YMCA can use it for their activity days in the summer. Also the field turf would get used by our high school baseball and softball programs when they can't take ground balls on the wet grass or dirt. The usage of the turf is endless for every program in our school and community.”


The middle school PE classes use the sports complex correct? How big of an impact does the sports complex have on the Middle School?


“I think the middle school will get great use out of the complex. They currently use it for running the mile in their PE classes and some other activities and I think that would only increase if they could always get on the turf field when the grass is too wet to be on.” AD Jeff Bissen


How will the new complex help out the current parking situation?


“Parking is very limited and tight at our current complex. The current proposal adds 140 spots to the middle school main parking lot and adds another 10 near the front doors of the middle school. The current proposal also eliminates the handicap parking from inside the main entrance gate and moves it just outside of the main entrance which will make the complex more safe.” AD Jeff Bissen


Finally, if I'm a Glenwood resident and I am on the fence why should I vote Yes?


“I believe our kids, our town and our community are deserving of this complex. Our current complex has seen its better days and is in need of an upgrade.

The current complex is outdated, not ADA compliant, not as functional and safe as it could be and not very appealing for the town and a new complex would fix all of that.

A new complex will provide many opportunities for hosting which will bring about economic development to the town of Glenwood. Lastly, a new complex with field turf will allow for so many different groups to be able to use it.” AD Jeff Bissen