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 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.


Big Ten officials to assess bowl lineup

May 17, 2009
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

CHICAGO — The Big Ten’s future bowl lineup could receive a radical — or reserved — makeover this week when league officials, administrators and football coaches conduct their annual meetings.

Five of the league’s seven contracted bowls are up for renewal following the 2009 season. League officials plan to discuss each bowl this week, and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the league will “explore the (bowl) landscape.”

“We keep in touch with our incumbents,” Delany said. “We really can’t engage in negotiations with others normally under most of the agreements until we engage in good faith negotiations with the incumbents. We can look around, chit chat, find out if there are others that might be interested, but we can’t engage in any sort of serious discussion on business issues until we go through the process with our own.”

The Big Ten has agreements with the Rose Bowl and the Insight Bowl (Phoenix area) until 2013. Bowls up for renewal after the 2009 season include the Capital One and Champs Sports (Orlando, Fla.), Outback (Tampa, Fla.), Alamo (San Antonio) and Motor City (Detroit). The Big Ten’s champion automatically qualifies for the Bowl Championship Series, which includes the Rose Bowl. The league’s runner-up — if it does not qualify for a second BCS bowl — is designated for the Capital One Bowl. The Outback Bowl receives the third team, followed by either the Alamo Bowl or Champs Sports Bowl, then the Insight and Motor City bowls. Last year’s bowls totaled nearly $35 million in revenue for league schools.

The Big Ten last renegotiated bowl contracts in 2005 when it added the Champs and Insight bowls and dropped the Music City (Nashville, Tenn.) and Sun (El Paso, Texas) from its bowl lineup. Delany said at the time the league wanted to add destinations that cater to alumni, many of whom live in Arizona and Florida.

“I have to say we love our alignment,” Delany said. “It’s been good to us. We’ve adjusted from time to time, and even when we’ve adjusted in the past it’s always difficult.

“We never really had a bad bowl relationship. It’s just whether or not find better ones, whether you can improve your lot.”

The Big Ten became one of the first leagues to secure a tie-in for a non-champion when it sent its runner-up to the Holiday Bowl in 1986. The league ended that agreement in 1994, the same year it secured Capital One and Outback bowl agreements. The league began its relationship with the Alamo Bowl one year later.

The league’s contract with the Capital One Bowl earns the league nearly $4.25 million, the top payout among non-BCS bowl games. But Orlando’s 73-year-old stadium’s potential $175 million renovation has stalled, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  The paper reports a slowdown in tourism taxes have placed the project on that community’s back shelf for possibly 10 more years. The Champs Bowl also is played at the same stadium.

“The first thing the commissioners told me was ‘I thought you guys had approved renovation of the stadium. I don’t think you guys realize how important this is for us,’” Florida Citrus Sports chief executive officer Steve Hogan told the paper. ” … I didn’t expect to be shocked as I was about how pointed and concerned our existing sponsors are right now.”

 “We’ve been watching it for a long time,” Delany said. “We’ve been encouraging the city, the bowl, the Florida Citrus Association just to make progress, to move forward, because anybody that follows the college game, whether it’s in urban areas or on campus, facilities have been improving over the last 10, 15, 20 years. We’ve been encouraging that. That will be a factor. How big a factor? It’s to be determined.”

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Ferentz contract not finalized, ‘no decision’ on son’s status

May 13, 2009
University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference Tuesday, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City. Ferentz said expected Tate to start Saturday's game unless something unexpected developed in practice this week.

University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City.

Iowa and football coach Kirk Ferentz have yet to finalize the seven-year contract extension that was announced three months ago.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said he and Ferentz have spoken about the contract recently, and there’s no concern that the deal might fall through.

“The honest answer is when he was going through recruiting, we really just set it aside,” Barta said. “We talked about it a couple of times over the last several weeks. It’s one of those things, we already know we’re going to do it, we’ve already agreed in principle on what we’re going to do, we just haven’t committed it to a contract.

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Iowa men’s schedule nears release, ticket prices likely to go down

May 13, 2009

Iowa men’s basketball is likely to give their athletics department a financial reprieve this fall on travel.

Iowa makes three trips in non-conference play: Iowa State, Northern Iowa and the CBE Classic (against two of Texas, Pittsburgh or Wichita State) in Kansas City. All three are bus trips rather than flights for the Hawkeyes. Last year, Iowa traveled to Charleston, S.C., Las Vegas and Boston for non-conference games.

Iowa’s non-conference schedule, which also includes home games against Drake and Virginia Tech. One contract is out right now, which is why the school hasn’t released the schedule yet.

It also appears Iowa will miss out on the flight to Penn State this year. The Big Ten schedule is not finalized, but that trip wasn’t included on the league’s rough draft schedule. That will be released later this summer or early fall.

It also appears Iowa will lower overall men’s basketball ticket prices this year. Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Tuesday that no decision has been made.

“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.

Iowa averaged 100 more fans this year (10,861) than last year, but it’s way off from the early part of the decade when Iowa averaged a sell-out. After a an all-time worst start, Iowa dropped ticket prices for its final five home games to $10 each. That gave the department a major lift in bodies, although not necessarily the bottom line.

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


Budget cuts coming to Iowa athletics department

April 8, 2009
Members of the Iowa football team arrive at the Eastern Iowa Airport on Jan. 2, 2005. Iowa beat Louisiana State in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2005.

Members of the Iowa football team arrive at the Eastern Iowa Airport on Jan. 2, 2005. Iowa beat Louisiana State in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2005. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta has told coaches and administrators to trim their budgets for the upcoming 2010 fiscal year.

“If our revenue is going to be down, and we anticipate it could be, then our expenses have to go down because we’re self-sustaining,” Barta said.

Barta and his staff has not targeted specific areas, and everything is up for evaluation – except the sports themselves.

“We’re not considering cutting any sports at this time,” he said.

Budget cutting likely will involve travel and scheduling, the most visible expense outside of coaching. Iowa’s athletics department spent more than $4.2 million in travel during the 2008 fiscal year, according to documents provided to The Gazette through the Freedom of Information Act. But that’s a drop of more than $1.1 million from the 2007 fiscal year.

Travel costs often shift like a yo-yo depending on football and basketball schedules. During the 2007 fiscal year, Iowa’s football team spent nearly $2.17 million on travel, then a three-year low. But the men’s and women’s basketball teams saw travel costs soar by more than $360,000 combined, costing the department nearly $5.35 million.

“I’m not a micromanager in general, not just in budgets, but in all things,” Barta said. “I’ve asked every unit, whether it’s a coach for a sport or any other area in our department, and I’ve said, ‘We need to cut back in anticipation of our revenues being down and where are you going to cut?’ So each unit head, each head coach, each director is coming to me with ideas. I’m letting them come up with the way.

“If they have a particular trip, they think they can still go on —competitively, it’s important to them — but they’ll cut in some other areas, then I leave it up to them as long as we get to the bottom line.”

During a bowl season, the football program generates about 40 percent of the department’s total travel expenses. In recent years the school charters flights to all football road games but Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa State. Lately, Iowa has played those schools in the same school year.

Iowa’s football travel declined steadily for three years following the 2005 fiscal year (2004 football season), when the program spent $2.46 million in travel costs. That figure dipped to $992,265 in fiscal year 2008. Part of that financial drop was associated with three bus trips (Iowa State, Wisconsin, Northwestern) and not traveling to a bowl game. Football travel costs expect to rise for the 2009 fiscal year because of five regular-season road flights and a bowl trip to Tampa, Fla.

This fall, Iowa football will catch a break in travel costs by busing to Wisconsin and Iowa State, while flying to Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State. In a Big Ten schedule change, Iowa will host Northwestern for the second straight season.

“Every year you take a look at your conference matchups and, it seems to go every couple of years, the travel goes up and down,” Barta said. “It certainly is this coming year; we look like we’re going to catch a break. We have policies about when we travel to certain areas, when we’ll bus versus when we’ll fly. So we’re doing everything we can to come up with ways to reduce our expenses.”

“By the time you take a large group like that, get them from campus to the airport get there in time to get through screening, go through all the of the security process, you’re almost there anyway.”

Two midrange football locations — Minnesota and Illinois — are taken out of the discussion this year. Iowa doesn’t play at Minnesota until 2009 and doesn’t travel to Illinois until 2012.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz has no problem re-evaluating his program’s expenses to help the department weather the tough financial climate.

“I think everybody in the department is being asked — and rightfully so, and reasonably so — to be fiscally responsible and see if there’s something we can do,” Ferentz said. “Times aren’t like they always were, things are different everywhere on every plain. So if there’s something we have to do or can do, we’re going to do that, certainly.”

Like with the football program, fortunate men’s basketball will aid the bottom line this fall. Iowa plays in Kansas City next November in the CBE Classic, and its two non-conference road games are trips to in-state rivals Northern Iowa and Iowa State. The basketball team will take buses to all three venues, said Jerry Strom, Iowa’s director of men’s basketball operation. Iowa likely will host an ACC opponent in the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge next year after playing at Boston College last season.

Iowa may alter some of the day trips while competing on the road. But it won’t change its policies on student-athlete welfare such as altering meal per diem or stacking more than two athletes to a room, Barta said.

“There are quality control issues to make sure the experience is great for the student-athlete,” Barta said. “But then after that, the coach has discretion.”


Barta’s vote of confidence

January 16, 2009

Reporters and other media expected Iowa AD Gary Barta to talk about attendance and other issues affecting the Iowa men’s basketball program. While he addressed those issues roundly, he adamantly stood by second-year Coach Todd Lickliter, who is 11-6 this year.
“Overall I like the direction,” Barta said. “I like where we’re headed when I see the recruits that we’re bringing in. I like the way Todd goes about it. All the things that I said when we hired him, and I still feel exactly the same and I bring that up in conjunction with my concerns about attendance.”
Iowa has lost three of its last four, includinga 15-point mauling last Sunday at Michigan. But Barta remains optimistic the team is heading toward success.
“I look at the Ohio State game (a three-point road loss), I look at the BC game (a two-point loss at Boston, I look at the Minnesota game (a three-point loss), clearly in my opinion, we are a far more competitive team this year. We’re playing team basketball. The future looks bright.”


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