The Iowa West Field House has the look of a winner, Council Bluffs area dignitaries said on Saturday.

“We expect more athletic opportunities for our youth, as well as helping to revitalize this area,” said Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh. “Like the anchor store at a mall, this facility should bring thousands to this area on a daily and weekly basis.”

Nate Dix, general manager of this new youth recreational facility by the Mid-America Center, was also impressed by what he’ll oversee.

“This place is amazing,” he said. “This is long overdue.”

With hundreds of local boys and girls playing basketball and volleyball in the background, Dix joined Walsh and others in opening this massive facility named after the Iowa West Foundation. It features eight basketball courts that can change to 12 volleyball courts in about 90 seconds because the hoops and nets come down into place from the sound-absorbent ceiling.

A long seating area and bleachers have been placed along the courts for family and friends to watch the action up close.

Numerous scoreboards have been installed on the walls, along with 80-inch screen televisions that could be used for marketing purposes. When hunger and thirst strike, a full-service concession area will offer relief with burgers, fries, wings, pop, etc. Near the main entry, which faces west, a room is available for meetings.

It’s hoped the Iowa West Field House becomes a winner in two different ways, said Pete Tulipana, IWF president and CEO.

“From the beginning, our goals for the Field House were to provide hard court space and access to southwest Iowa sports teams, as well as to drive economic development in the Mid-America Center and tourism in Council Bluffs,” Tulipana said.

Saturday’s ceremony focused on the naming of the Omaha Sports Academy as the firm that will run the recreation facility. Their selection followed a nationwide search, Tulipana said.

“This place is second to none,” said Bob Franzese, co-owner and general manager of the academy.

The local Cobra youth sports program has already signed up to play games there, as well as basketball leagues from the Council Bluffs YMCA. There are also 12 regional tournaments signed up between April and August, Franzese said.

Dix added that 30 weekends this year are booked up already.

“Our goal is to have 48 weekends booked out of the year,” he said.

Franzese’s excitement about the facility was readily apparent.

“This is as good as it get, the setup, the layout, the bells and whistles, the technology,” he said.

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