The Future at Kinnick

Iowa AD Bob Bowlsby and others working on the Kinnick Stadium renovations talked with the media Wednesday about the project. Hn.com was there and highlights some of the key points touched upon at the gathering. "If we can bring (the renovations) in on time and on budget, I feel comfortable in saying that we will have the nicest stadium of it's kind in the country," Bowlsby said.

Nobody knows for sure how long Kinnick Stadium's life will be extended by the renovation project underway. Iowa Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby can provide a rough estimate, however.

"I know it's going to last longer than my last contract," Bowlsby said Wednesday at a press conference to announce many of projects's plans and the features it will provide.

Bowlsby said that the people involved in the renovation expect the old ball yard to be around for "many decades."

Senior Associate Athletics Director Jane Meyer and Associate Athletics Director for Donor and Patron Services Mark Jennings joined Bowlsby in addressing the media on Wednesday at the Jacobson Building.

"If we can bring (the renovation) in on time and on budget, I feel comfortable in saying that we will have the nicest stadium of it's kind in the country," Bowlsby said.

Much of what those three administrators spoke about can be viewed at www.GoodBetterBestIowa.org/kinnick, which HN.com posted last week. The topic already is being discussed on our premium message boards.

Several key points were brought up by these administrators. There were other areas on which the media directed focus.

Here are the some of the elements most talked about Tuesday:

*The University of Iowa likely will change policy to allow alcohol to be served in the premium seating areas - the suites and club boxes.

The U of I currently has a liquor license(s) that allows it to serve alcohol in certain venues on campus like The Memorial Union. Meyer said that the athletics department wants to be able to serve it in the stadium, which currently is not covered under any of the U's licenses.

Just a hunch based on what was discussed today, expect this to happen.

*Bowlsby said that the approximate $87 million renovation was chosen ahead of replicating a brand new Kinnick, which was estimated at $350-450 million.

*Each seat in the stadium will be widened by two inches. As a result, there will be about 3,000 less seats. The estimated new capacity of Kinnick will be just over 69,500.

*A final decision on the number of suites has yet to be determined. Right now, there is more of a demand for suites than club seating

Iowa currently has signed intent forms for 40 suites, which are broken up into 12-, 18- and 128-seat units (there is only one 128-seater). Of the approximate 1,150 outdoor club seats, about 600 have signed intents. Of the 150-300 indoor clubs, only about 60 have signed intents.

The plan is that if they cannot sell more indoor clubs, they have the flexibility to convert some of that space into suites. The cap for suites is set at 50.

*The change likely to receive the most attention in the media will be the " priority seating." The department is formulating a plan that basically says your seat is determined by your donation(s).

Currently several items go into determining where a person(s) sits - length of time donating, amount of donation, time as a season ticket holder, etc.

Jennings used as an example of somebody currently donating just $50 a year sitting on the 50-yard line because he has been giving money for 50 years.

All of the seniority basically will be wiped away and a clean slate started. The university will begin a points system that determines your seat, and it will be weighted heavily towards the size of your donation. You can also earn points by being a member of the alumni association and other efforts that support the school.

Jennings used the terminology of "This is what you donate. This is what you get."

"Priority seating" will run from goal line to goal line on each side of the stadium, meaning you must donate to sit anywhere out of the North and West ends.

*Bowlsby mentioned that most of the fans sitting between the 15's now are donors.

*Meyer outlined four basic principles of the project:

1) Maintain historic ambience of Kinnick; 2) Want everybody buying a ticket to benefit; 3) Be on time and stay within the budget; 4) Make the football team and department better.

*The project already has begun.

When I was over at Kinnick today, most of the trees and other structures were taken out of the parking lot to the west of the stadium. Starting Aug. 7, the tennis courts will become a utlilities area for construction. Once the season ends, the south end zone stands will be removed right away and the rebuilding of that area will begin.

*The university will be accepting bids for asbestos removal. Meyer said that there is quite a bit of it in the stadium.

*There are going to be 2 1/2 women's restrooms to every one for the men. Meyer said that is in accordance with U policy.

*Renovations call for pink locker rooms to remain for the visitors. The pink paint has arrived, and the pink carpet and tiles are not far behind.

*Where as before a donor gave money and then paid for his or her seat(s), a person(s) now has the donation contribute to the seating price. He or she can claim 80 percent of that on tax reports.

*Suite sales so far have been about split between businesses and individuals.

*Iowa administrators gathered and used a lot of information from the stadium renovations at Purdue. The schools employed the same consultants.

Meyer anticipated Kinnick being a better finished product than Ross-Ade because Iowa started with a better stadium.

And as someone who has been to Purdue on several occasions, she'll get no argument from me.

*For information on taking part in the Kinnick Stadium Campaign:

Andy Piro, Jana Michael, or Matt Henderson at the UI Foundation Athletics Development Office. Phone (800)-648-6973.

Mark A. Jennings, Associate Director of Athletics for Donor and Patron Services. Phone: (319) 335-8903.


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