Preliminary work underway at Carver

July 23, 2009

 

Workers from an Iowa City tree service clear trees from the northwest side of Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, July 23, 2009. The work is done to complete a utility project necessary to begin a the renovation of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

Workers from an Iowa City tree service clear trees from the northwest side of Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, July 23, 2009. The work is done to complete a utility project necessary to begin a the renovation of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

Utility crews have begun preparatory work on the invisible guts of Carver-Hawkeye Arena’s future renovation.

The $2 million utility project has wiped out half the parking west of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which senior associate athletics director Jane Meyer promises will be available in time for football season. The project includes water and electrical work, and a local tree service was clearing timber northwest of the arena.

“We have to get a 12-inch water line from Hawkins Drive down around sort of the footprint of where the practice facility will be,” Meyer said. “This was bid as a separate project.

“The utilities have to be out of the way before anything else begins.”

The state Board of Regents approved the $47 million renovation in June 2008. Athletics officials planned to break ground this fall, but Meyer said it’s too early to commit to a timeline because the drawings are not finalized. Iowa City’s Neumann Monson Architects and Kansas City-based HNTB are the project architects.

“I’m not even going to speak to that (a timeline) until we know where this last pricing comes in and we make sure everything is in order,” Meyer said.

Earlier this week Athletics Director Gary Barta said the utility project will lead to Carver’s renovation.

“The actual Carver project hasn’t gone to bid yet,” he said. “It’s a precursor. It’s a utility project that will allow us to do the big renovation once we go to bid sometime this fall.”

Athletics officials have received around $9 million in pledges and commitments for the project as of earlier this summer. They hope to raise $20 million privately. Associate athletics director Mark Jennings said Thursday the fundraising campaign is ahead of schedule.

The basketball facility/arena renovation includes a multi-court gym for the basketball and volleyball teams and a renovated wrestling complex. Each sport will receive new locker rooms, new coaches offices and an 8,000-square foot strength and conditioning center.

The arena renovation plan includes two hospitality rooms and 650 premium seats for men’s basketball. A courtside seat for men’s basketball is valued at $125,000 in giving over five years. A second-row seat costs $60,000 over five years. There will be 50 seats in each row. The arena also includes 550 premium club seats costing $12,500 per seat over five years.


Iowa FB Media Day guaranteed to host fewer attendees

July 15, 2009

OTB_Ham_sandwich

This is not entirely economy-driven for the struggling media industry, either.

As part of its annual football media day festivities, Iowa hosts a luncheon at a local restaurant (or in recent years at the Kinnick Stadium press box). Around 60 media types (including several wannabees with recorders, cameras and Hawkeye T-shirts) get the usual interviews plus some gorge themselves at the luncheon. Then, many snag a few extra media guides for their friends back home.

Not this year. Iowa has cut the free buffet line from its media day budget. Plus, the shiny media guides won’t be available, either. Iowa will send them to Chicago for Big Ten Media Days but the media guides won’t be available for local media. Iowa instead will provide their fact books (which has much more useful information anyway) to media attending the event, which is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Many reporters will never see one of these again.

Many reporters will never see one of these again.

So, how many of you wanna bet that a good 20 percent of the media day posse decides not to attend media day because there’s no free meal or free media guide? Oh, the usual suspects, like we at The Gazette, the Des Moines Register and the Iowa City Press-Citizen will attend as always, as will the major market TV stations. But the smaller radio and newspaper outlets that often showed up for a free meal, a free media guide and the chance to meet Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz will vaporize faster than you can say “seconds.”

It’s kind of sad that the sports media gets this well-earned reputation.


Iowa picks up four-star offensive lineman

July 13, 2009

Ohio native and four-star recruit Andrew Donnal committed to Iowa this morning, HawkeyeReport.com reported this morning.

Donnal, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound offensive lineman, picked Iowa over several schools, including Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, according to the Web site. Rivals ranks him No. 127 on its national board.

“The main thing was I just felt really comfortable at Iowa every time that I visited,” Donnal told the Web site. “The coaches are great and the players have nothing but good things to say about it, so I think it’s going to be a great fit. Plus if you’re a lineman, Iowa is definitely one of the best places you can go.”


Iowa could kill media guides to save trees and cash

June 2, 2009

08-fb-mg-cover-300IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa has not decided whether or not to eliminate team media guides for the upcoming 2009-2010 sports season.

Big Ten schools Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin all chose to eliminate media guides for next year. According to a joint press release, Michigan and Ohio State said the move will save their departments a combined $250,000 next year. Wisconsin Athletics Director Barry Alvarez said the move will save his athletic department up to $200,000, according to reports.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Tuesday the school will make a decision quickly and “before the deadline to print.” Big Ten schools have brought media guides to the league’s annual football media days in late July. Barta said the school has considered the move for several months.

“Whether or not we eliminate them, I’m not certain yet,” he said. “We haven’t made any final decisions. but we did talk about ways we might be able to reduce them and use the Internet, use an electronic replacement for those.

“We met about it the last couple of weeks, so we’re going to have to make a decision pretty soon.”

Barta said it’s possible the school may choose to keep some of the media guides but eliminate others. Conserving paper and sustainability also are factors in Iowa’s choice to keep the guides or eliminate them.

Media guides formerly displayed vital information for reporters. In 2004, Missouri’s football media guide was 614 pages and had four pages dedicated to red-shirt freshmen. In 2005, the NCAA limited football media guides to 208 pages, and schools chose to use the guides as a recruiting tool and less of a history book.

Barta said the department will examine how eliminating the guide might affect recruiting before making a final decision.

“One of the ways many of the young people we recruit now when we talk to them, they’re really going to Web sites, Internet sites,” Barta said. “So that appears to be where the trend is going anyway. So that’s what we’re trying to determine. Certainly we don’t want to do anything to damage our recruiting.

“If you look at there’s a lot more interest in going green in conserving paper, etc. The world has certainly changed a lot electronically and the Internet from five years ago and economically things have changed as well.


Iowa men’s hoops seeks return to top 25 in attendance

June 1, 2009
Iowa's Kurt Looby is congratulated by a floor full of fans as the Hawkeyes leave the court after defeating Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Jan. 12, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Iowa's Kurt Looby is congratulated by a floor full of fans as the Hawkeyes leave the court after defeating Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Jan. 12, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY – The recent economic downturn only slightly affected Big Ten and national basketball attendance during the 2008-09 season.

According to figures released by the schools and the NCAA, national basketball attendance dipped by an average of 28 fans per game last year. Total attendance for Division I men’s basketball exceeded 27.7 million fans.

The Big Ten led the nation in average attendance for the 33rd straight year, according to the NCAA, with 12,519 fans per game. The Big Ten reported on its Web site that the league averaged 12,490 fans per game.

Overall, Iowa averaged 100 more fans this year (10,861) than during the 2007-08 basketball season. It is way off from the early part of the decade when Iowa averaged a sell-out (15,550). Iowa approached near-record lows in February, averaging less than 9,900 fans a home game. Iowa then dropped ticket prices for its final five home games to $10 each, giving the department a major lift in bodies, although not necessarily the bottom line.

“This past year, it (attendance) actually took a small dip up,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “So that’s a good sign.”

Iowa ranked No. 34 nationally in attendance, three spots up from No. 37 during the 2007-08 season. From 1978 through 2002, a 25-year period, Iowa ranked no lower than 17th nationally in attendance and finished in the top 10 nine times.

Iowa has started “Project 25,” in its push to boost attendance back into the national top 25. Iowa has not set its ticket prices for next year, but Barta said the school likely will lower the prices.

“Taking into account the economy, taking into account we’re rebuilding our program and getting back to where we want to be, we’re taking a look at lowering some of the ticket prices,” he said.

“When you look at what’s happening nationally, basketball over the last 10 years is in a downward trend. When you look at our season-ticket sales, we have gone through a six- or-seven-year downward trend.”

First-year Cyclone head basketball coach Ken Trickey (plaid suit, center) reacts to action on the floor of the Iowa Fieldhouse in Iowa City in 1974. Iowa won, 77-66. (Gazette photo)

First-year Cyclone head basketball coach Ken Trickey (plaid suit, center) reacts to action on the floor of the UI Field House in Iowa City in 1974. Iowa won, 77-66. (Gazette photo)

According to the Big Ten, four schools saw an annual decline in average overall attendance. Indiana’s overall attendance dropped by 2,545 fans a game, while Ohio State (1,125) and Illinois (1,119) each lost more than 1,000 fans per game in one season. Iowa’s overall attendance declined by 35 fans a game. The league’s overall average fell by 408 fans.

In league play, only three schools reported annual declines. Those schools include Indiana (2,200), Ohio State (1,286) and Illinois (310). Iowa saw its league average increase by 216 fans per game.

The figures do not take into account ticket promotions, such as Iowa dropping prices to $10 per seat – down from $27 and $22 a ticket – for the final five games.

Here’s an annual look at Iowa’s national ranking and average home attendance since 1978:

1978 – No. 16 (11,967); 1979 – No. 15 (12,482); 1980 – No. 11 (13,365); 1981 – No. 13 (13,365); 1982 – No. 12 (13,365); 1983 – No. 8 (14,817); 1984 – No. 8 (15,450); 1985 – No. 8 (15,060); 1986 – No. 9 (14,774); 1987 – No. 12 (13,663).

1988 – No. 10 (15,500); 1989 – No. 9 (15,500); 1990 – No. 12 (15,500); 1991 – No. 13 (14,874); 1992 – No. 13 (15,343); 1993 – No. 10 (15,215); 1994 – No. 9 (15,312); 1995 – No. 12 (15,158); 1996 – No. 11 (15,416); 1997 – No. 10 (14,586)

1998 – No. 14 (13,963); 1999 – No. 17 (14,173); 2000 – No. 13 (15,156); 2001 – No. 12 (15,500); 2002 – No. 12 (15,207); 2003 – No. 20 (13,235); 2004 – No. 23 (12,977); 2005 – No. 22 (11,900); 2006 – No. 25 (12,006); 2007 – No. 29 (12,196); 2008 – No. 37 (10,761); 2009 – No. 34 (10,861).

NOTE: Iowa competed at the UI Field House until 1983 before moving to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Quick look at Kinnick Stadium’s new FieldTurf

May 29, 2009

 

Here's the north end zone of Kinnick Stadium with new FieldTurf. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

Here's the north end zone of Kinnick Stadium with new FieldTurf. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

 

Here's a view of Kinnick Stadium's new FieldTurf looking north to south. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

Here's a view of Kinnick Stadium's new FieldTurf looking north to south. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

 

This view is from the northwest bleachers looking at Kinnick Stadium's new FieldTurf. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

This view is from the northwest bleachers looking at Kinnick Stadium's new FieldTurf. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The end zones are black. The hash marks are cut. The surface is light and shaggy.

Kinnick Stadium’s latest makeover was unveiled Friday with plush new FieldTurf, a synthetic fiber that appears and feels like grass.

Iowa now is the seventh Big Ten school to install FieldTurf as its football playing surface. Iowa’s football program already had two practice fields with a similar version of FieldTurf.

The shift to FieldTurf ended two decades of a grass field at Kinnick Stadium, which became a hot button topic among Iowa football fans. Annual maintenance cost savings were one factor in switching to FieldTurf, Iowa senior associate athletics director Jane Meyer said Friday.

“We looked at putting in real grass again,” she said. “We looked at putting in the type of infill surface that we did. And we weighed the options in regards to maintenance and with regards to how long a grass turf field would last. At that point we just sort of presented those options and said, you know what, the way we’re going to move forward is by putting in an infill product in. (Iowa Coach) Kirk (Ferentz) was supportive of that.”

The FieldTurf surface is a combination of multicolored fibers for each section of the field. The green portion between the goal lines is shaved in different spots for hash marks. Workers will sew in the yardmarkers and glue in the Tiger-Hawk emblem in each end zone.

The surface is slightly different from those at The Bubble and Iowa’s outdoor practice field. Kinnick’s new surface has a monofilament fiber, while the older turf models had one strand with three fibers at the top. Kinnick’s surface still requires a sand and rubber infill, which will fill in all but about a 1/2-inch of a 2 1/2-inch fiber.

The project’s budget is $2.025 million, and Meyer said the department will finish under budget and likely ahead of the scheduled Aug. 1 completion date. The department has an eight-year warranty with FieldTurf, a Canadian company, with hopes the surface will last up to 15 years. The state Board of Regents approved the project in February, and work began March 12.

Kinnick Stadium’s drainage problems led to the new surface. Thedrainage system was installed in 1989, and drainage tiles below the playing surface were plugged. It caused a near disaster with heavy rain on Sept. 13 before the Iowa State-Iowa football game.

“We had about three inches of water sitting on the 30-yard line south,” Meyer said. “And so at that point, even though we had known we had an issue, it just escalated and heightened our awareness.”

The new drainage system allows for water to flow away from the stadium, both under the field and under the grandstands.

Iowa also has new goal posts in each end zone. Neither are the style of older goal posts designed to keep fans from tearing them down.


Big Ten football fans like Cotton as next league bowl

May 28, 2009
Although this building won't host the annual Cotton Bowl any longer, many fans want the bowl to select a Big Ten team, according to an online poll.

Although this building won't host the annual Cotton Bowl any longer, many fans want the bowl to select a Big Ten team, according to an online poll.

It’s hardly a scientific poll, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one today online.

On this blog, readers were asked which non-Big Ten bowl would they like added to the Big Ten lineup. Overwhelmingly, readers chose the Cotton Bowl.

Forty-nine percent (213 votes) of the 435 votes cast picked the Dallas-area bowl. San Diego’s Holiday  Bowl finished second with 29 percent (128 votes). Others receiving votes include the Gator Bowl (10 percent) in Jacksonville, Fla., the Atlanta-based Peach Bowl (OK, so it’s called the Chick-fil-A Bowl) with 7 percent and Memphis’ Liberty Bowl (3 percent). The category “Other” also received 3 percent.

The Cotton Bowl has more tradition than any bowl outside of the Bowl Championship Series, crowning a national champion or dislodging the top-ranked team seven times. But it moved to also-ran status in 1995 with the Bowl Coalition and a year later with the break-up of the Southwest Conference. It now hosts the Big 12 runner-up against usually the SEC’s fourth-best team.

Five of the Big Ten’s seven bowl agreements expire after the upcoming football season, including contracts with the Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs and Motor City bowls. The Big Ten has four years left on its contracts with the Rose and Insight bowls.

The Cotton Bowl’s agreements with the SEC and Big 12 expire after the upcoming season as well. It’s unlikely the bowl ever will sever ties with the Big 12. The Big 12 includes four former Southwest Conference schools and the SWC champion anchored the bowl from 1941 through 1996.

The Cotton Bowl would like to rejoin college football’s top-tiered bowl games as a BCS member. The bowl is leaving its long-time venue in Dallas for a $1 billion palace with a retractable roof in Arlington this year. The open-air venue (which saw its share of frigid weather and snowstorms) was one reason why it was left out of the BCS nearly 15 years ago. (The other, some say, is athletic directors like playing golf in Phoenix with no chance of rain/snow rather than crossing their fingers and hoping for the best in Dallas.)

The league has expressed concern with Orlando’s stadium, which hosts the Capital One and Champs bowls. The Citrus Bowl is 73 years old and a $175 million renovation plan has fallen by the wayside during the current recession.

The Capital One Bowl boasts the highest payout of any non-BCS bowl at $4.25 million per team, while the Cotton Bowl pays around $3.3 million. But the Cotton Bowl features tradition and recruiting possibilities. It’s possible if the Cotton Bowl sweetens the pot near Capital One Bowl levels, the Big Ten might jump at moving its second-place team to Dallas against the Big 12’s No. 2 team. Some years, like last year, that might mean Texas Tech vs. Michigan State. Other years, that could pit Michigan vs. Oklahoma.

Coincidentally, only one Big Ten school has played in the Cotton Bowl. Ohio State beat Texas A&M 28-12 on Jan. 1, 1987.Penn State had played in three Cotton Bowls, but each appearance came before the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten.

The Holiday Bowl featured a Big Ten team from 1986 through 1994. Iowa played in three Holiday Bowls in that span, winning two games by a point each (39-38 against San Diego State; 20-19 against Wyoming) and tying Brigham Young 13-13 in the other. Iowa also has played in two Peach Bowls (a 28-22 win against Tennessee in 1982; a 28-23 loss to North Carolina State in 1988) and one Gator Bowl (a 14-6 loss in 1983 to Florida). Iowa never has played in the Liberty Bowl, which last hosted a Big Ten team in 1994. Illinois lost the 1982 Liberty Bowl 21-15 to Alabama featuring legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in his final game.

Iowa nearly played in the 1986 Cotton Bowl, mainly because of then-Coach Hayden Fry’s relationship with bowl officials. Had Iowa lost its final game and not won the Big Ten title, Cotton Bowl officials planned to offer Iowa the slot against Texas A&M. Instead, Iowa beat Minnesota and claimed a Rose Bowl berth. The Cotton Bowl selected Auburn and its Heisman Trophy running back Bo Jackson.


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