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Iowa AD: Indoor football facility ready by August

People watch at the University of Iowa Athletics Department's indoor practice facility known as
People watch at the University of Iowa Athletics Department's indoor practice facility known as "The Bubble" is deflated Friday, April 20, 2012 on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The bubble has served as Iowa's indoor practice facility since it was completed in 1985. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

IOWA CITY — Iowa’s new indoor football practice facility and adjacent outdoor practice fields will be completed by the time the program enters training camp, Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Thursday.

The 100,000-square foot, fixed-roof facility replaces the 27-year-old Bubble, which was deflated on April 20. The Bubble had 72,000 square feet.

“I didn’t agree to take the Bubble down until I knew the indoor facility would be done in time for two-a-days,” Barta said.

The new practice facility is the first of two phases in a $55 million project for the football program. Phase II includes new locker, equipment and meeting rooms, strength and conditioning center, medical facility, coaches’ offices and a public entryway. Phase II has a targeted completion date of 2014.

Barta said the department has raised $20 million in private funds for the project with a fundraising goal of $35 million. The other $20 million will come from a short-term loan paid from department funds. Barta said the department has no plans to sell bonds for the project.

Barta said it’s too early to decide how to re-purpose the existing football building. Among the ideas he’s considered include renovating it for gymnastics use and/or turning it into a training table area for all athletes.

“This project will be going forward for about two years so I can’t pick a date yet,” Barta said.

Construction on a $2 million, 7,500-square foot indoor golf practice facility located at Finkbine Golf Course began in March. Barta said it will be completed within a year. The facility was paid for entirely by private funds.

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