Aug 22, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The 2013 college football season is a week away, and the anticipation throughout Iowa City is palpable. There is an added boost of adrenaline surrounding the University of Iowa football program due to the completion of the new indoor practice facility last year and the current construction of the adjacent operations center.
"We have a lot going on obviously in the building, next to the indoor," said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year. "The second phase of the operations project is really exciting. It's great to see steel going up, everybody is fired up about that.
"The indoor facility, the operations project being completed, those are all major gains for us, and something we really need."
As part of the Iowa Football Legacy Campaign, the new indoor practice facility was completed prior to last season, providing a practice venue that competes with any program in the Big Ten.
"It is one of the best facilities in the country," said Hawkeye offensive line coach Brian Ferentz. "To have this facility for practice makes an enormous difference. We have more room in the indoor facility than when we go over to use Kinnick Stadium, because of the sideline space."
The new 100-yard, 102,000-square foot facility, which features 45-foot high side walls and a 65-foot clearance at the peak, is only the first phase of the Iowa Football Legacy Campaign.
"We are working on phase II right now," said Brian Ferentz. "This time next year, we will be talking over there. We are extremely excited about that as well."
The second phase of the facility project is a new football operations center -- the final component in creating one of best training facilities in the nation. The operations center will include approximately 76,000 square feet on two levels, featuring new offices for coaches and staff, meeting rooms, locker rooms, strength and conditioning facilities, and much more.
"I tell recruits all the time, for us, our offices are functional, no problem," said Brian Ferentz. "You give football coaches a pot of coffee and a projector, and they are really happy guys.
"What we need to do is take care of our football players. That is always our goal. This new facility shows a tremendous commitment to taking care of our players. They are going to have the best of the best. We are making sure they have state-of-the-art equipment."
With its close proximity to Kinnick Stadium, the new indoor facility and operations center is completing one of the top training and competition venues in all of college football, creating a buzz among the program.
"We are ready to get to work in the new facility," said sophomore defensive tackle Darian Cooper. "The new facility will better accommodate us and provide a central location. The older guys that are leaving are a little upset, they won't be able to utilize phase II fully. The younger players are really excited."
The student-athletes are also very appreciative of the efforts of all who have helped make this project a reality.
"With the players, bricks and mortar is a lot more impressive than projections," said Brian Ferentz. "When we entered the new indoor facility for the first time last year, the guys were very appreciative.
"We have a good group of guys that understand the work that goes into a project like that. They take great pride in the facility and have taken excellent care of it. If you walk in there, it is spotless and immaculate, and that speaks to the character of the kids we have on this team. When they walk in and see this building, they are very excited to go to work for you."
"The new indoor facility is a great asset for our program and a major upgrade," said senior offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten. "Not only does it help the current student-athletes, but it also helps with recruiting. We are very fortunate to have this great facility. We cannot thank the donors and the people behind the campaign enough for all their support of the University of Iowa and the Hawkeye football program."
The UI Athletics Department is 100 percent self-sufficient, and receives no state tax dollars. Private support is vital to complete such a project.
"We have currently raised just over $32 million of the $35 million goal to create one of the finest football training facilities in the country," said Matt Henderson, Executive Director of Development. "We cannot thank our donors enough."