Carver-Hawkeye Arena Renovation Underway

Nov. 6, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Nov. 6 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — With a simple, four-word declaration, University of Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta let it be known that the Carver-Hawkeye Arena renovation project has begun.

“It is officially underway,” Barta said Wednesday at an impromptu press conference following one by head men’s basketball coach Todd Lickliter. “Our goal all along was to break ground this fall and that has started immediately.”

Saying that the “construction environment was in our favor,” Barta explained three things that needed to occur before work could begin on the $43 million venture. First, since the entire funding is self-generated with no state tax dollars, the UI had a goal of raising $20 million, and to date there are already pledges for more than $15 million.

“In a very difficult time, the fund-raising has been going extremely well,” Barta said.

The second criteria was that construction bids needed to be at or below Iowa’s estimated budget amount. The third was that the bids for the bonds needed to approval by the Board of Regents.

Hawkeye athletic teams will compete in Carver-Hawkeye Arena during the entire two-year process. Most of the work during the early stages will be on the building’s exterior. When completed, the addition, which will be connected to the current arena, will essentially have two full-sized basketball or all-purpose courts. Although improbable, that means that it would be possible for three Hawkeye teams to practice simultaneously.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams will see the most obvious benefit from the renovation, although there will also be a new, expanded wrestling space and locker room. The sport of volleyball will also be a huge benefactor.

When Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built in 1983 at a price tag of $18.4 million, it was affectionately known as the “House that Lute Built.”

Lute, of course, is Hall of Fame head men’s basketball coach Lute Olson, who compiled a record of 168-90 from 1975-83. At its opening, there were less than 100 UI staff members working in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Now there are approximately 200. In 1983, Carver-Hawkeye Arena had a strength and conditioning area of 1,800 square feet. The new facility will increase that to 11,000 square feet.

“I have a view out my window watching the trees come down,” Lickliter said. “It’s something we all admit is past due, but it is something of the utmost importance. If we want to compete on the court, then we have to have all available resources to do that. This will give us a better opportunity to prepare to compete.”

Out of 24 varsity sports sponsored by the UI, 20 of them are housed inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“We took pictures because I’m going to send them to every one of my recruits,” UI head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder said. “The bulldozers are here and the trees are going down. We know it’s a two-year project, but we’re excited about the future.”

Knutson Construction Services, which has completed several other projects at the UI, received the Carver-Hawkeye Arena bid.