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IOWA CITY — The size, scope, and cost of a new University of Iowa wrestling training facility has swelled since it was announced two years ago to now include women’s facilities — after the UI in September became the first NCAA Division I Power Five conference school to offer women’s wrestling.
The original project cost of $17.3 million has increased 53 percent, to $26.5 million, according to documents provided to the Board of Regents, which next week will consider approving the project design, description and budget.
When the board in February 2020 agreed UI Athletics could begin planning the stand-alone wrestling facility to the south of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, it was estimated at 37,000 square feet — a total that’s climbed to 38,500.
Where UI Facilities Management originally estimated the project would be substantially complete by May 2022, construction now is proposed to begin in June 2022 and wrap in April 2024.
The university has said it aims officially to start its women’s wrestling program in 2023-24 season — having already hired head coach Clarissa Chun and signed several recruits.
As has always been the case, all funding for the project is expected to come from Athletic Department gifts.
The new two-story facility will include women’s and men’s locker rooms, strength and conditioning space, a two-story wrestling room, training and therapy rooms, a coach office suite, recruiting room, student-athlete lounge and an underground tunnel leading to Carver-Hawkeye Arena — where the wrestlers compete.
Hawkeye wrestlers have been training and competing in the 15,077-seat Carver since it opened in 1983 — even as the arena has become increasingly busy with its other indoor sports -- men’s and women’s basketball and gymnastics.
UI Athletics in 2011 constructed an addition on the north end of Carver that supports basketball and volleyball only. And officials have reported to the regents, “This shared facility is at capacity, forcing each sport to compete for space and court time.”
When first proposing the new wrestling complex in 2020, Hawkeye Athletics reported its national powerhouse wrestling program occupies training rooms and the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex inside Carver.
“Bordered by men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, space is limited, outdated and needs to upgraded to assure continued success of the program,” according to regent documents.
This week’s more detailed project description and design reports plans for a steel-framed structure over concrete foundations, concrete and steel-stud framed walls, curtain wall exterior walls, fire suppression and alarm systems, audiovisual systems, and other internal and external finishes.
Tunnel construction would include excavation and hand-mining methods, according to board documents.
The building’s main entrance would be situated to the northwest, facing toward Carver.
Construction costs — which have spiked in the past year — are budgeted to account for $20 million of the project cost, with $3.4 million going toward design, $1 million for equipment and furniture, and nearly $2 million for contingency costs.
The university expects annual operating and maintenance costs of $190,000.
Justifying the endeavor, the university reports it is “home to one of the most accomplished men’s wrestling programs in the NCAA and the first women’s wrestling program in a Power Five conference.”
“Completion of this project would provide University of Iowa Athletics with a modern, high-quality and sufficiently sized facility to support their nationally recognized wrestling program,” according to regent documents.
“As the quality of space directly influences the success of the program, the planned space would provide the needed resources to be a national leader in men’s and women’s wrestling, and would strengthen recruiting activities, donor cultivation and alumni events.”
The University of Iowa has been considered a national wrestling powerhouse since the mid-1970s.
UI has won 24 NCAA championships, capturing nine consecutive titles from 1978 to 1986.
The program has 37 Big Ten championships under its belt.
It’s crowned 85 NCAA individual titles, boasts 355 NCAA All-Americans, and has had 207 Big Ten individual champions.
In April 2018, Carver-Hawkeye Arena hosted the United World Wrestling World Cup, an international dual tournament featuring the top eight wrestling teams in the world.
In fall 2021, UI Athletics announced it was launching a women’s wrestling program, making it the first Power Five conference school to do so.
In November 2021, UI Athletics hired Clarissa Chun as its first women’s wrestling head coach.
Source: University of Iowa Athletics Department
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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