May 3, 2004
Herky on Parade is a public art project that is a flagship program of the University of Iowa’s celebration on the 75th anniversary of historic Kinnick Stadium, the home of the UI’s football program. Kinnick will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation over the next two years.
Editor’s Note: The following was written by Susan Davis Smith of The Gazette, Special Sections Department.
Kinnick Stadium has been a special place in Charlie Smith’s heart. He has been a Hawkeye fan since grade school in North Liberty.
“That’s North Liberty when the population was 161, not 6,500 like it is today,” says Smith, a 1940 alumnus of the University of Iowa.
Smith made his first trip to Kinnick in 1930. He was 11 years old then; Kinnick (then Iowa Stadium) was just a year old.
“I still regret I didn’t see the opening game in the stadium in 1929,” Smith says.
He’s made up for it, though. Each fall, Smith and his wife, Dorothy, can be found in their seats at Kinnick in section D on the 40-yard-line.
As Kinnick Stadium enters its 75th year this fall, it also begins a two-year period of renovation. The $89 million project is expected to better meet the needs of the 400,000 fans that each fall make Kinnick Stadium their home away from home.
“Our staff has been taking mental notes of other facilities and the shortcomings of Kinnick for 10 years or so in anticipation of this undertaking,” say Rick Klatt, the associate athletic director for external affairs at the University of Iowa.
Key improvements include upscale seating options, doubling the number of suites available in the new state-of -the-art press box from 20 to 40. There will also be roughly three times the number of restrooms and double the number of concession stands. Klatt says several of the improvements come from listening to fans feedback.
Herky on Parade officially kicked off today as 75 Herkys decorated by professional and aspiring artists took the streets of greater Iowa City/Coralville community in celebration of the 75th anniversary of historic Kinnick Stadium.
“Their biggest concerns are the ones we’re addressing big time: more restrooms, more concession stands, a better sound system and a wider seat,” he says.
Important to longtime fans, like Smith, will be the maintenance of the stadium’s history and architecture. All new elements to the stadium are to be compatible with Kinnick’s historic character.
“A high priority of the team in charge of pulling together all pieces of the renovation is to arrive at a finished product that makes the structure functional for another 75 years,” Klatt said.
Funding for this project will be generated from a variety of sources. In addition to a capital campaign, funding will come from the leasing of privates suites; and indoor and outdoor club seating options inside the stadium’s new press box.
The renovation is to be completed by August 2006. Klatt says the remodeling will take place though two football seasons with minimal disruption to fans.
As important as its history is to the Iowa City/Coralville area, Kinnick Stadium and Iowa Football have a strong economic impact on area businesses.
When the Parade is over where will the Herky’s go?
Some Herkys have already been purchased outright by their sponsors.Some are property of the UI Athletic Department, the Iowa City/Coralville Conventions and Visitors Bureau, the City of Coralville and/or the City of Iowa City. Those that remain will be made available for purchase at an open-to-the-public auction being planned for December 2004.
“It’s unbelievable the amount of dollars that come into this community because of Iowa football games,” explains Josh Schamberger, executive director for the Iowa City/Coralville Conventions and Visitors Bureau. “Every hotel room in this community from here to Waterloo is booked during home games. Those 70,000 people who come in for the games are spending millions and millions of dollars at businesses, for gas, or at restaurants. It’s huge the impact it has.”
Schamberger speculates the economic effect Iowa football has on the community is one reason why so many businesses jumped in to sponsor the “Herky on Parade” project.
Friends and fans of the University of Iowa and the Iowa Hawkeyes interested in learning more about the renovation of historic Kinnick Stadium are invited to visit hawkeyesports.com, where they will find many details of the project. Fans interested in learning more about the privates suite, indoor club and outdoor club seating options should contact Mark Jennings (319-335-8903) or Andy Piro (319-335-3305).