Thousands Swarm Kids Day

Aug. 19, 2006

The University of Iowa’s historic Kinnick Stadium came to life Saturday when the nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes staged their fifth annual Kids Day event to the delight of more than 15,000 fans of the Hawkeyes as curious about their team as they are about the renovations to the 76-year-old stadium.

The team’s practice went as scripted…lots of solid tackles,lots of completed passes, a few missed exchanges. All in all, progress is being made.

“We have plenty of things that can be cleaned up,” said UI Coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes open their 2006 season in two weeks against Division I-AA powerhouse Montana. Kickoff inside Kinnick is set for shortly after 11 a.m.

“Cleaned up.”

That’s a pretty good description of the east concourse of Kinnick. Fans attends the annual event had access to the south grandstand and east concourse as work continued on the north and west grandstands as the two-year, $89 million renovation of the UI’s prized football facility nears completion.

“Unbelievable,” said Joe Robinson of West Des Moines who was standing outside one of the new concessions stands near the northeast entrance of the stadium. “I know the concourse isn’t wider, but it just seems brighter, cleaner and much, much more organized. Simply fantastic.”

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I am very, very impressed,” said Cindy Jacobsen of Dubuque, who had just walked the entire length of the east grandstand before grabbing a seat on the 50-yard line. “It just feels like it’s brand new and at the same time feels like it’s the way it’s always been.”

“I love the renovations. It looks great,” said Ron Jenkins of Oskaloosa. “But what I really love is the Hawkeyes. I was very excited coming here today and even more so after watching the team. It’s going to be fun…I can’t wait for the opener.”

Jacobsen and, undoubtedly, the overwhelming majority of those in attendance spent just as much time evaluating the new press box atop the stadium’s west grandstand as they did the UI defense, offense and special teams.

They probably noticed that the new facility carried the name “Paul W. Brechler Press Box.” Earlier this year, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved the naming of the new press box at historic Kinnick Stadium in honor of the University of Iowa’s former director of intercollegiate athletics and business manager.

A native of Curlew, Iowa, and a graduate of Emmetsburg High School, Drake University and the University of Iowa, Brechler was served as the business manager for the UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in 1946-47. In 1947, he was named director of athletics. In fact, at age 36, he was the youngest director of athletics in the history of the Big Ten Conference.

Brechler administered one of the many golden eras in intercollegiate athletics at the UI. He was the individual responsible for the hiring of some of the greatest names in the history of the Hawkeyes including Forest Evashevski, Bucky O’Connor, F.X. Cretzmeyer, Dave McCuskey and Don Klotz

During his tenure, University of Iowa teams won three Big Ten football championships and two Rose Bowl games, made two appearances in the Final Four in men’s basketball, and won Big Ten championships in four additional sports. Numerous student-athletes earned all-Big Ten and all-America honors and many advanced to participation in the Olympics.

Brechler also was responsible for expansion of the UI’s athletics facilities. He directed construction of the Athletics Office Building adjacent to the UI Fieldhouse and the UI’s award-winning Finkbine Golf Course and clubhouse, and expanded seating capacity and constructed a new press box at what was then known as Iowa Stadium.

The public rededication of historic Kinnick Stadium will be staged at 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 1, on the Krause Family Plaza. The event will include the unveiling of the new statue of the stadium’s namesake, Iowa’s 1939 Heisman Trophy award winner, Nile Kinnick.

Brechler’s career in intercollegiate athletics included stints as the commissioner of the Skyline, West Athletic and Rocky Mountain conferences, and director of athletics at the University of California.

He is a member of the Des Moines Register Sports Hall of Fame, the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors Hall of Fame, and the University of Iowa Varsity Club Hall of Fame.