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IOWA CITY — A new field hockey building is the latest new or updated facility University of Iowa Athletics is pursuing.
In a request for qualifications issued Tuesday, the UI unveiled it “intends to retain professional programming, planning and architectural design services” to build a new field hockey facility adjacent to the team’s existing Grant Field.
The proposal calls for a 5,000- to 8,000-square-foot building that will include a locker room, press-box and office next to the field, which is located off Prairie Meadow Drive between the UI soccer complex and UI Athletics Hall of Fame.
A “feasibility study and full design” work would look at specific size and possible locations. One option would be to put the building on the west side of Grant Field, north of existing bleachers. Another option would put it east of the field, replacing or relocating an existing press box.
“The feasibility study will supplement internal planning to date,” according to the UI request for qualifications. “The selected firm will plan and design the facility, including additional programming determined during the feasibility study.”
The study will start immediately after a firm is chosen — although the project’s completion will depend on “further funding,” according to the request. Companies wanting to bid must do so by July 22, with “design consultant interviews” planned for Aug. 10.
Should UI Athletics move forward with plans for a new field hockey facility, it could echo a recent nearly $4 million upgrade to the neighboring soccer complex — completed last summer — and will add to the swelling list of athletics projects across campus.
UI Athletics — which largely is self-supported, although it needed a $50 million loan from the main campus last year to accommodate COVID-related losses — is building a new $31.6 million, 38,500-square-foot wrestling facility that will connect with Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It also is undergoing an $18.8 million to $20 million “complete renovation” of its baseball team’s Duane Banks Field, including press box, bleachers and concourse; and it’s pursuing a $7 million to $9 million 30,000 gross-square-foot gymnastics and spirit squad building.
Although the university used some athletic department income for the new soccer complex, its wrestling, baseball, gymnastics and spirit squad upgrades are being paid for entirely through donations.
Board of Regents policy requires universities to seek board permission for projects costing more than $5 million “prior to initiating formal project planning.” UI Athletics has not yet sought explicit regent permission to plan, design or build a new field hockey building as it has for the other projects.
Board spokesman Josh Lehman said field hockey upgrades were “part of the UI master plan that the board has given permission to proceed with project planning” — although field hockey upgrades weren’t mentioned in master plan documents the board approved in January.
UI Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz, in discussing the master plan at that time, did note, “Athletics will continue to modernize facilities related to all of their sports as they move forward through this decade and frankly the next decade.”
Speaking in April, UI Athletics Director Gary Barta mentioned eventual upgrades to Hawkeyes’ softball, field hockey and outdoor track and field facilities — having recently invested in an improved indoor track.
During a Presidential Committee on Athletics meeting at that time, Barta said projects were in a “feasibility study mode” and reiterated funding is key.
“Vision without resources is irrelevant,” he said at the time.
Iowa’s field hockey team — celebrating its 50th year as a varsity sport in 2023 — got a new field in 2006, which maintained its name honoring Christine Grant, former UI women’s athletics director and founder of UI field hockey.
The Hawkeyes have gone undefeated on their home turf in six separate seasons, including a 40-game home win streak. With 12 Final Four appearances, Iowa field hockey is considered among the most successful intercollegiate teams on campus.
But the program doesn’t have on-site locker rooms or other amenities.
Head Coach Lisa Cellucci is entering her 23rd season on the Hawkeye coaching staff and her ninth as head coach. She told The Gazette on Wednesday that proposed facility upgrades are the “missing piece” for the program.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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John Steppe of The Gazette contributed to this report.