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Kinnick Stadium: Eyeing the Future

Kinnick Stadium will be 75 years old in October 2004.

Kinnick Stadium will be 75 years old in October 2004.

Dec. 4, 2003

It's true. The University of Iowa is currently making plans to renovate 74-year-old Kinnick Stadium, the home of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

It's true. The primary focus of the renovation plan is the aging south end zone structure.

It's true. The renovation plan would likely call for the demolition of the existing press box.

It's true. The support facilities inside legendary Kinnick Stadium - the rest rooms, the concessions stands, the souvenir shops - all would be gutted and rebuilt with modern-day amenities that enhance the experience of being a spectator at one of the nation's most exciting venues for college football.

It's true. The renovation would also directly impact the Iowa football program and the teams that visit one of the nation's largest stadiums owned and operated by a university.





The University of Iowa will seek approval to move forward with the proposed renovation of historic Kinnick Stadium at this month's meeting of the State Board of Regents.
UI Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby


And, it's true. The project would be the largest ever undertaken by the University of Iowa on behalf of its intercollegiate athletics program. And, the impact of the project would be felt not only by those directly involved with the Iowa football program, but every varsity sports program offered at the University of Iowa, every spectator who attends Iowa football games, and every friend and fan of the University.

The University of Iowa will seek approval to move forward with the proposed renovation of the largest venue of its type in the state of Iowa at this month's meeting of the State Board of Regents in Ames.





"It's (a project) that we've talked about for more than a decade; talked seriously about the last four or five years; and have really dug our teeth into during the past 24 months. It's a significant project that will require a true team effort for it to be completed successfully."
UI Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby


"It's a project that is both necessary and ambitious," said Bob Bowlsby, Iowa's director of athletics. "It's one that we've talked about for more than a decade; talked seriously about the last four or five years; and have really dug our teeth into during the past 24 months. It's a significant project that will require a true team effort for it to be completed successfully."

Research and planning is the name of the game at the present time. Various staff of the UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics - headed by senior associate director Jane Meyer, who will oversee the construction, and associate director Mark Jennings, who will oversee the fund-raising for the project - the University, the UI Foundation, and a team of nationally-known consultants and architects are currently deeply involved in the nitty-gritty of the project, researching everything from how many restrooms and concessions areas are needed to efficiently serve 70,000 spectators to what the new playing surface should be.

The list of topics to be addressed and re-addressed is long and diverse - just what one would expect for a project that could cost somewhere between $75 and $90 million and take more than three years from start to finish once the first shovel of dirt is moved.

Assisting with the project's initial planning and design are the architectural firms of HNTB of Kansas City and Neumann-Monson of Iowa City. HNTB was the architect involved in recently completed stadium renovation projects at Ohio State University and Purdue University. The UI has also engaged professionals in market research and has hired consultants who are seeking feedback from fans of the Hawkeyes and friends of the University.





"Our highest priorities are straightforward: Do what is necessary to make Kinnick Stadium fully operational for another 30 to 40 years and do it in a way that is fiscally sound and responsible, maintains the look and feel of the existing structure, and provides a positive impact on everyone involved in the game-day experience."
UI Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby


"Our highest priorities are straightforward: Do what is necessary to make Kinnick Stadium fully operational for another 30 to 40 years and do it in a way that is fiscally sound and responsible, maintains the look and feel of the existing structure, and provides a positive impact on everyone involved in the game-day experience," said Bowlsby.

Everyone is in agreement on another point: Renovating the existing facility is without doubt a better solution than building new if for no other reason than the cost of a new facility. The construction costs for replacing Kinnick Stadium with a comparable facility would easily cost $400 million, if not more.

"First, I'm not certain where someone goes to find that kind of money," Bowlsby said. "More importantly, however, we know what we have in Kinnick. It's a facility that is rich in tradition and is very, very important to fans of our football program, participants in our football program and the University in general.

"Doing what is necessary to bring Kinnick Stadium up to speed from a wide variety of perspectives is by far the wiser and more prudent decision," Bowlsby added.





"This project represents a very rare opportunity to review every suggestion for its feasibility, and its ability to improve the facility and the experience of those who use the facility. We intend to seize the opportunity and improve upon what is already, from a variety of perspectives, an outstanding venue."
UI Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby


The center of attention is the south end zone. The current structure will be replaced. It's unclear at the present time what the new structure will look like and whether it will require relocation of all or a portion of the Klotz Tennis Courts. Suffice to say that a wide variety of options have already been put on the table for discussion and consideration.

"The south end zone piece of this puzzle is easily the most exciting. It has great potential to enhance the look and feel of not only the stadium, but that part of our campus," said Bowlsby. "The south end zone space is the space on a game day where we can have the greatest impact on our spectators by providing greatly improved game-day services like restrooms, first-aid, concessions, ticket operations and more."

Another focus of attention is the press box. It's likely that a new structure will be built and that it will be wider and deeper than the existing structure. The exact allocation of space inside the facility for use by the media, game operations staff and private guests, among others, is yet to be determined.





"A great example of seeking opportunities to improve the facility in such a way that benefits everyone is the public address system. The current system is decades old. As a result of the renovation, we will install a state-of-the-art system that will increase the level of enjoyment for everyone from a spectator in the stands to the participant on the field."
UI Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby


However, the final plan will include private viewing space or "suites." The plan will also include individual spectator seating that is located inside and outside of the facility with both locations having access to private concessions and rest room facilities within the press box.

"Annual revenue generated from private suites and the preferred seating opportunities potentially within and/or adjacent to the press box is a primary source of funding for the project," said Bowlsby.

In addition to the south end zone and the press box, UI staff and others engaged in the project are examining all opportunities to improve the experience of attending an event at Kinnick Stadium that could be a by-product of the renovation.

"A great example of seeking opportunities to improve the facility in such a way that benefits everyone is the public address system. The current system is decades old. As a result of the renovation, we will install a state-of-the-art system that will increase the level of enjoyment for everyone from a spectator in the stands to the participant on the field," said Bowlsby.

Parking to and in the immediate area around Kinnick Stadium, the concourse areas that are a part of the facility, scoreboards, videowalls and message centers, and both pedestrian and vehicle traffic before and after the event all are on the radar screen and open to evaluation and re-evaluation.

And, yes, so, too, are such items as the seat location for the UI Marching Band and the sections in the stadium reserved for use by student season ticket holders. And, speaking of seats, the width assigned to each individual seat location inside Kinnick Stadium is also on the table as a subject for discussion.

"For years we've listened to suggestions from ticket buyers, staff, student-athletes, coaches, bus drivers, concessions stands operators, television camera operators...you name it," said Bowlsby.

"This project represents a very rare opportunity to review every suggestion for its feasibility, and its ability to improve the facility and the experience of those who use the facility. We intend to seize the opportunity and improve upon what is already, from a variety of perspectives, an outstanding venue."

At the same time, the space around Kinnick - concourse areas, parking lots, the Klotz Tennis Courts - will likely undergo significant change as part of a larger plan.

It's also likely that changes will occur inside the bowl of the stadium itself. As noted, the UI is examining everything from the width of the seats to the width of the aisles, entryways from the concourses to the bowl, the interior and exterior concourses and gathering spaces.

"Again, our intention is to exit the back-end of the process with a facility that exceeds the expectations of our fans, student-athletes, coaches, visiting teams and others who utilize the facility on game day," said Bowlsby.

"And, we intend to do this as responsibly as possible and on a timeline that doesn't significantly diminish the quality of the experience of being at Kinnick Stadium during the years that the renovation will require for completion."

Bowlsby said the renovation of Kinnick Stadium is easily the single-most important project ever undertaken by the University on behalf of its intercollegiate athletics program.

"We can not offer the type of intercollegiate athletics program this institution's many and varied constituencies expect without a competitive football program. This project will not only directly impact our football program's ability to compete on a national scale, but it will impact every program and every student-athlete, coach administrator, staff, friend and fan who participates in our program for many decades to come," said Bowlsby.