Iowa Football Practicing Around Construction

April 2, 2012

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 — With the University of Iowa expecting to field a young football team this fall, maybe it is better that the Hawkeyes are using Kinnick Stadium for nearly all of the practice sessions during spring drills. Spring practice began March 21, while Iowa will holds its annual open practice and scrimmage on Saturday, April 14.

Between now and that time, as long as weather conditions are favorable, the Hawkeyes will hold their workouts in Kinnick. In case of inclement weather conditions, the Hawkeyes will be forced to use the indoor bubble practice facility.

All of the reasons for the use of Kinnick are positive; however, as the two-phased project of enhancing Iowa’s football facilities is underway. Phase I includes the new indoor practice facility, while Phase II will include new offices areas for coaches and staff, strength and conditioning facilities, meeting rooms and locker rooms, among other things.

Watch the progress on the construction HERE.

The construction work on the new indoor facility initiated a domino effect on other areas. Because the new facility extends north into the Kenyon Practice Facility, the artificial turf field of that area is being converted to natural grass so that the Kenyon facility will include two full grass playing fields.

Crews have begun removing the artificial surface from the practice field in Kenyon. That area is prepared for natural grass to be laid by May 1, in order to be ready for practice in August.

“With the new indoor facility being built, anticipation is that it will be complete by mid-September,” said Jane Meyer, senior associate director of athletics. “Due to that construction and location of the facility, we needed more grass fields. The sod needs to be in place by May 1 to be ready for practice Aug. 1.

“That leaves us with the only outdoor turf available this spring being inside Kinnick Stadium. With the bubble scheduled to come down in April, Kinnick truly becomes the only space to practice from the end of April until August. So we are really moving lots of pieces on where people are going to be.”

An additional part of the construction around Kinnick Stadium includes the west campus transportation center being constructed directly north of Kinnick Stadium. A portion of that project includes converting the space where the indoor bubble currently sits to additional parking spaces.

“In order to have that all work, we will not have artificial turf outside, so football plans to use Kinnick Stadium as the outdoor practice area when on artificial turf,” said Meyer. “They will be on grass the majority of the time in Kenyon. But, when we need to practice on artificial turf in October, we need lights in the stadium.”

That brings in the next piece of the facilities puzzle, which has seen practice lights recently installed at Kinnick Stadium. There are two light standards on the east side of the stadium and one bank of lights in both the northwest and southwest corners. The lights are for practice only and are not the same wattage, or as bright, as the lighting used for night games in the fall.

“We chose not to light Kinnick Stadium with the brightness needed for television,” said Meyer. “The four poles which are currently installed are only for practice level, about 50- to 60-foot candles. For a game telecast, you need 100- to 110-foot candles. These lights are the newest, green technology from Musco, and are very focused on the playing field, not the parking lots and surrounding areas. They are very focused within the stadium.

“In fact, people will not see those lights on for night games during the season. We will continue to bring in the same Musco Lighting set-up as previously required for televised evening football games.”

When work is completed in September, the Kenyon Practice Facility will include space for two natural grass fields and the new indoor facility will provide an indoor field with artificial turf. In addition, the Hawkeyes will be able to utilize the outdoor artificial surface in Kinnick Stadium, which now has lighting to support late afternoon and evening practice times.

The space where the original inflated bubble now sits, just north of the new transportation center, will be converted for parking. A new road will run between the transportation center and the UI’s Recreation Building to connect Evashevski Drive to Hawkins Drive, intersecting with the south entrance of Lot 40 (UI dental lot). A sidewalk will connect Hawkins Drive to Elliott Drive, for ease of foot traffic to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“The biggest thing will be patience; by fans, by workers in the area and by our athletic staff and student-athletes, because there is so much construction in a small area,” said Meyer. “It’s going to be great when it is done, it will benefit everyone.”