June 23, 2004
Senior athletic administration officials detailed the $86.8 million Kinnick Stadium renovation project in a press conference Wednesday. While some of the preliminary work has already begun, fans will have to wait until the start of the 2006 football season before the historic venue will be “the nicest stadium of [its] kind in the country,” according to Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby.
The largest pieces of the renovation will be the completely redesigned south endzone area and the press box, which will house three levels of premium seating before a fourth level of working media, game officials and coaches.
“Kinnick is a terrific venue,” Bowlsby said. “We certainly thought long and hard about the decision to reinvest in Kinnick versus building new. But while $90 million is a lot of money, the cost of replicating Kinnick even by modest estimates is somewhere between $350-$450 million. I don’t know where to get that kind of money, even if you do think it’s a good idea. Most of the Hawkeye fans we’ve spoken to said that they appreciate the ambience, the tradition and Kinnick is where we want to be, even with all the challenges of game day.”
According to Associate Director of Athletics Mark Jennings, sales of the premium seating have far surpassed similar efforts at other colleges. In fact, all of the 40 initial suites offered to donors six weeks ago have been sold, but a few do remain.
However, the deadline for suites and other premium seating is Aug. 15, in order to satisfy a requirement by the Iowa State Board of Regents that 80 percent of the seats be sold by Sept. 1. For more information regarding how to obtain premium seating by donating to the University of Iowa, contact Jennings at 319/335-8903 or the UI Foundation at 1-800-648-6973.
“Kinnick is a terrific venue. We certainly thought long and hard about the decision to reinvest in Kinnick versus building new. Most of the Hawkeye fans we’ve spoken to said that they appreciate the ambience, the tradition and Kinnick is where we want to be, even with all the challenges of game day.”
Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby
The suites, fully detailed with artists’ renderings located at the link above, are just one part of the premium features of the renovated press box. Indoor and outdoor club seating are also available with improved concessions and seats.
For $1,900 to $2,600 apiece, roughly 1,150 outdoor cantilevered seats will be available outside of the press box. While the seats provide some of the best views of the game, they are fully heated and covered by a new overhang that will cover the field-wide box.
For a donation of $5,000, one can enjoy the game from indoors in the lower-level of the box, with all the same amenities as the outdoor seating in addition to a coat-check service and closed-circuit and cable television and a guaranteed midfield location without any obstructions.
However the 43 suites available between $45,000 and $85,000, ranging between 12 seats and 28 seats per suite, are being dubbed by officials as the “Ultimate Kinnick Stadium Experience.” With catered food, sinks, cabinets, refrigerators, closed-circuit and cable television in a lounge area before the padded seats, the suites are to rival those found at some of the nation’s most prestigious venues.
The donations to the University that qualify individuals and corporations for the premium seating are up to 80 percent tax deductible under IRS rules, according to Jennings. And contracts for the premium seating are available in three-, five- and seven-year terms.
But the renovations at Kinnick are not just for the high rollers, as Senior Associate Athletic Director Jane Meyer, who is heading up the construction of the project, stressed on Wednesday.
The average fan will notice wider seats endzone-to-endzone, brand-new and more restrooms where patrons queue inside the lavatory rather than line up on the concourse, and brand-new and more concession stands, in addition to a new scoreboard, a modernized sound system and improved seating for fans with disabilities.
“Every single fan, whether they’re a contributor or not, is going to have their game day experience enhanced by this, and that’s been the fun part of selling this project. It’s not just for a few people. It’s for everybody,” Jennings said. “We’re not going to price the Hawkeye fans out of coming to Iowa games. That’s not what we’re going to do.”
“Our aspiration is to make [Kinnick] the most modern, the most effective, the most efficient stadium it can be, do it on a budget we can afford, and have it look as though it belongs there and like it’s been part of the stadium since it was built in 1929.”
Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby
The current Kinnick Stadium seats 70,397 spectators, but with the wider seats the capacity of the stadium will fall to 69,500, according to Bowlsby. Of those, roughly 16,000 will be reserved for single-game ticket-holders in the endzone sections, while the two main sections will be reserved for donors and long-time ticket holders based on a revised priority-point system that is already in place.
“The 2006 season will be an interesting one for the football fans because every fan will move some, if even just because of the wider seats. No one will be in their exact same seat,” said Jennings, who added that fans should know by this October what donation level and other factors will be used in determining priority.
Wednesday’s presenters also gave the media a first glimpse of some of the new traditions that will be established when the revamped Kinnick opens.
While the visiting team’s locker room will remain its current pink color, the Hawks will enter through the new, grand south entrance, which provides the first “front door” Kinnick’s had. The plaza will replace the Klotz tennis courts currently located on Melrose Ave.
The student section will also be moved from the northwest side of the stadium to the southwest so that students can be over the team as they enter onto the field.
But with all the talk of change and new traditions at Kinnick, officials were most pleased by the fact that the project will not interfere with the 2004 or 2005 football seasons. Construction will virtually cease during the next two football seasons, causing some construction to be done in parts so that the functionality of the stadium will remain.
“Our aspiration is to make [Kinnick] the most modern, the most effective, the most efficient stadium it can be, do it on a budget we can afford, and have it look as though it belongs there and like it’s been part of the stadium since it was built in 1929,” Bowlsby said.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com