116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — With three more home games remaining in the Hawkeye football season, the University of Iowa — like many other employers — is facing a “significant” staffing shortage at Kinnick Stadium.
In an email disseminated Wednesday to UI Athletics Department employees and UI Staff Council members, leaders requested “game day volunteers” willing to work at stadium gates, in sections for disabled spectators and in premium club areas beginning Saturday, when Iowa takes on Purdue at 2:36 p.m. in Kinnick
“As you may be aware, many institutions across the country are facing staffing shortages on football game days,” according to the email. “We are no different at Iowa. In a typical year, we have over 1,000 staff positions that are filled on a football game day. Today, we are facing a significant deficit in those staffing numbers as we project out for the remainder of the season.”
UI Athletics contracts with Contemporary Services Corporation for much of its stadium staffers — including workers at the gates, in the parking lots and around stadium seating entry points to check tickets. It also contracts with Aramark for concessions workers.
To work or volunteer in Kinnck, visit Hawkeye gameday jobs at hawkeyesports.com/footballgameday/#GamedayJobs
Given the staffing crunch Contemporary Services is facing nationally, UI Athletics is short about 200 workers, according to Marcus Wilson, executive senior associate athletics director.
“It fluctuates game to game, due to the large volume of staff that we have,” Wilson told The Gazette. “We’re looking now at this coming game at about a 15- to 20-percent deficit in the staffing number for CSC.”
Although the company typically pays workers for those jobs, the university is seeking to plug the staffing holes with volunteers, who don’t typically work on game day Saturdays. In the email, officials say volunteers will need to arrive two to three hours before kickoff. Those working the gates will be dismissed after the first quarter, but those working in ADA sections or premium seating areas will be expected to stay into the fourth quarter.
“Those working will be provided with parking, a credential with access to the premium seating areas, and a meal,” according to the email, seeking volunteers not just for Saturday’s game but for future games, too.
The Hawkeyes have three more home games this season. Following Purdue, Iowa is hosting the University of Minnesota on Nov. 13 and the University of Illinois on Nov. 20.
If the university doesn’t get enough workers to reach full staffing, Wilson said athletics will redeploy the workers it does have — prioritizing the parking lots during pregame hours, the gates during the rush before kickoff and the interior once fans are inside.
“What we try to do is modify our deployment throughout the day,” he said.
Due to COVID-19, the Hawkeyes’ last season didn’t allow fans at the games. In welcoming them back this season, the UI also debuted alcohol sales in Kinnick. Although Wilson didn’t have numbers on how short Kinnick is on concession workers, Aramark lists several UI stadium jobs on its website including bartender, suite attendant, cook, stand worker, cashier and supervisor.
“It is a national issue,” Wilson said of the staffing shortage. “We read about it in the national media every day — stadiums and arenas across the country that face staffing shortages and issues that arise from that. What I'm confident on is that we're addressing this head on here at Iowa. We're intentional about the deployment of staff, taking a proactive approach to developing modified staff performance plans and preparing for this every game.”
It’s too soon, he said, to know whether UI Athletics will face similar issues at Carver-Hawkeye Arena during basketball and wrestling season. But, Wilson noted, those events require far fewer workers.
Although the UI didn’t immediately answers questions about staffing shortages across campus, the university — including UI Health Care — currently has 729 staff jobs posted, including 448 patient care providers, 98 administrative or professional positions and 76 in the skilled trades or campus services. Additionally, the university has 137 faculty jobs posted — including nearly 100 in the UI Carver College of Medicine.
In the last budget year, UI Athletics reported an estimated $44.7 million deficit — given football, basketball and wrestling generated no income but still had about $34 million in expenses. That prompted the university to cut three men’s sports — gymnastics, tennis and swimming and diving.
For the current budget year, UI Athletics is projecting a rebounded balanced budget of $117 million.
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