IOWA CITY — It was the biggest burr in their bonnets, the pet peeve that made Iowa Hawkeyes football fans the most-peevish.
Why, oh why wouldn’t the University of Iowa slap a Tigerhawk on the drab white water tower outside the northeast corner of Kinnick Stadium?
Suddenly, the question/complaint/demand has been answered. Let there be logo!
Friday night at Kinnick brought the surprise announcement. By Sept. 1 and in time for the 2018 season’s football-opener here, a Tigerhawk and block “IOWA” will adorn the tower.
“It’s about time,” said Dale “Stumpy” Kinzenbaw of Marengo, a Hawkeyes season-ticket holder since 1983. “I kept wondering why it wasn’t.
At least as far back as 2009, Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta expressed his support for the school’s iconic athletics logo on the tower. Derek Yoder’s online petition pushing the cause at that time got over 5,300 signatures. The Gazette ran an October 2010 (a slow news month?) editorial supporting a Tigerhawk on the tower.
That all fell on deaf university administration ears.
“I made a few runs at it when I first arrived,” Barta said, “and just kept running into beareaucratic walls. I certainly had other things I needed to get done, so I just stopped working on it.”
Barta said university president Bruce Harreld has been the difference-maker.
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“President Herreld has, since the day he arrived, had the attitude of ‘What’s the right thing to do, and if we come up with the right thing to do we’ll figure out how to do it.’
“Technically, it’s a few buckets of paint and some scaffolding. It’s more about being comfortable as a university having it up there.”
What’s it about, Barta said, is common-sense marketing.
“Every Saturday 70,000 people are going to see it in person,” he said. “Beyond that, I think millions of people will see it on national television. There’s just too much power in that branding opportunity to not figure it out.”
To some of us, this issue had long been making a tower out of a molehill. But the many who cared ... really cared.
“I wouldn’t ballpark the number of calls over the years,” KGYM Radio talk show host Todd Brommelkamp said, “but when we ask what people would like to see changed with the Iowa program or something they’d like to see Iowa do, that’s been at the top of the list for years.”
As much as Brommelkamp and the rest of us in Iowa sports media heard fans vent about the subject, it was nothing compared to how often Barta dealt with inquiries about Tigerhawk-less Tower.
“I didn’t count,” Barta said, “but it was pretty regular. I’d say once a week during football season I’d get asked why we don’t.”
Someone who hadn’t really dwelled on the matter was Barta’s football coach, Kirk Ferentz.
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“I was driving in this morning and I was behind a Cambus,” Ferentz said. “They had the Capitol symbol, the emblem there (on the bus), and I don’t know why I was thinking about the water tower because I really haven’t thought much about it in my 28 years here, but this morning I was just thinking about the Tiger Hawk and the Capitol.”
The UI logo includes a dome mark to represent Old Capitol, the university’s signature building.
“The Capitol is a great emblem, also,” Ferentz said. “But I think the Tiger Hawk is a little bit more universally recognized.”
Ferentz said “I think it’s great” the Tigerhawk is going on the water tower.
“And the Capitol would have been great, too.”
Oh no, it wouldn’t. Not to those fans who haven’t let this go for what felt like forever.
“I say this with a smile on my face,” Barta said. “Somebody will say it’s not big enough, it should be gold, not black.
“But most decisions we make, there’s a 20 percent hate factor. In this case I don’t think too many people will be dissatisfied.”
Said Brommelkamp: “It’s gotten to the point where it went from a running joke to a reality. I don’t know what people will do with themselves now.”
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