Education

University of Iowa Athletics eyes HawkVision expansion, connection to Xtream Arena

Goal of full integration by August 2020

A fire burns on the screen of the Jumbotron at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Northwestern Wildcats at Kinnick
A fire burns on the screen of the Jumbotron at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Northwestern Wildcats at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — With the grand opening of Coralville’s new 5,100-seat Xtream Arena just months away, University of Iowa Athletics — which is planning to hold some events there — wants to upgrade and expand its HawkVision technology and infrastructure.

HawkVision is the UI in-house video display system televised on video scoreboards in both Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena. When the university first hired a HawkVision director in 2005, it created a control room in Kinnick meant to handle seven home football games a year.

Just one year later, though, the university connected the system to Carver — upping the annual event total demanded of the control space to 70 or 75 athletic events a year, according to Charlie Taylor, associate athletics director of strategic communications and marketing.

Although the original Kinnick control room was upgraded with high-definition technology in 2013, Taylor said the university now requires a second connected control room.

“The original control and machine room is at its capacity for equipment and operation/operator space,” he told The Gazette via email. “We plan to have the new space operational this fall.”

That’s when Coralville’s Xtream Arena — set to serve the UI women’s volleyball team and support its club hockey team — is scheduled to open in the Iowa River Landing District.

But Taylor said the HawkVision controls expansion is necessary regardless of the Coralville arena or where UI athletes are performing.

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“Adding the second control room is needed whether volleyball is playing in Carver-Hawkeye or Xtream Arena,” he said. “This new addition reduces the workload on our original control room equipment, adds redundancy for all shows, and gives us the capacity needed for all productions.”

The university over the weekend issued a call for proposals for the second control room capable of operating HawkVision on its own or in conjunction with the original room.

The call also seeks upgrades to the original control room and additional components for the Xtream Arena, on track to debut in August. Everything, according to the UI request for bids, must be fully installed and integrated by July 31.

Training will begin Aug. 3, and representatives from the company hired to do the work must attend the first two Hawkeye home games Sept. 5 and Sept. 12 to help with system operations.

Cost estimations of a new room and integrated system have not been made public.

Bidders are invited to visit campus Jan. 23 to view the existing control room and location.

UI Athletics over the summer re-upped its contract with longtime HawkVision game-day director Focus Productions, Inc. — which is operated by Jim Berg of Iowa City.

His role as HawkVision director includes developing video-wall productions for football, basketball, wrestling, volleyball and gymnastics; managing advertising, video, game statistics and scoreboard messages; and serving as game-day director.

The UI has been using Focus Productions for those services since 2004, according to more than a dozen contracts or extensions provided to The Gazette. In total, according to UI figures, the university has paid Focus Productions $920,452 over the years for its services — tacking on another $79,800 with its newest award.

Big-screen production started at Iowa in 1997 through a third party, according to UI Athletics officials. Before Focus Productions, Actions Sports Media owned and operated a control room trailer for Kinnick Stadium’s first Jumbotron.

The UI took over production in 2005, when it installed the big screen and control room.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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