Sports

Iowa universities moving forward with athletics upgrades

UNI wants new football room, premium seating

This shows the south side of the Hilton Coliseum concourse expansion at Iowa State University in Ames. The project, whic
This shows the south side of the Hilton Coliseum concourse expansion at Iowa State University in Ames. The project, which Iowa regents will consider in an online meeting next week, would move the coliseum's north and south exterior glass curtain walls outward to provide additional concourse floor space. (Board of Regents)

IOWA CITY — While their athletes are on hiatus under coronavirus restrictions, Iowa’s public universities are moving ahead with multimillion-dollar improvements of their athletics venues — like a $22 million expansion of Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum, including “glass curtain walls.”

When Iowa’s Board of Regents meets online next week, Iowa State University will seek approval of its designs, descriptions and budgets for a Hilton Coliseum north and south concourse expansion that would begin construction next spring.

The University of Northern Iowa is seeking similar regent approval for a $2.1 million addition of a 120- to 138-seat “football team meeting room” in the northeast corner of the UNI-Dome that could double as “revenue-generating premium seating.”

Iowa wrestling facility

The University of Iowa is about to close bidding on its new 37,000-square-foot wrestling practice facility.

That two-level space — which would provide new workout facilities, locker rooms, office space and direct access to Carver-Hawkeye Arena — is expected to cost between $17 million and $20 million, funded through gifts to the UI Athletics Department.

The university’s request for qualifications from prospective design firms expires Wednesday.

The project — which regents OK’d earlier this year — will expand the current space for the wrestling program in Carver, which includes training rooms and Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, which features three mats, a locker room, sauna, weightlifting facility and retractable bleachers.

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According to its request for design bidders, the current wrestling space “is limited, outdated and needs to be upgraded to assure continued success of the program. This project would expand the wrestling program’s square footage substantially.”

Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum

Iowa State’s proposed coliseum project also aims to enhance its athletics programs success — in part, through the fan experience — by updating the 49-year-old facility’s “aging infrastructure and congested concourses.”

“Hilton Coliseum is beloved by Cyclone fans and nationally recognized as having one of the best home-court advantages in college basketball,” according to the ISU request for project approval. “Not only is it home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams, but Cyclone wrestling, gymnastics and volleyball teams.”

The expansion would move the north and south exterior glass curtain walls out to Hilton’s existing free-standing columns, providing 6,700 more square feet of concourse floor space and converting old smoking decks into more useful space.

“The new exterior glass curtain walls would be more energy-efficient, include vibrant uplighting, bring the underside of Hilton’s bowl seating to life at night and amplify the thrill of ‘Hilton Magic,’ ” according to the ISU proposal.

The project — to be funded with athletics operating revenue and private giving — will alleviate deferred maintenance issues and improve fan and student-athlete comfort with better ventilation and humidity control.

The project is expected to take more than a year and wrap in fall 2022.

UNI-Dome

UNI’s proposed work on its UNI-Dome is expected for completion before the 2021 football season, should it start on time after the upcoming football season in this fall.

“Over the past two decades, UNI football coaches have requested a meeting room large enough to hold the entire team and in close proximity to the UNI-Dome,” according to the UNI request for regent approval. “Due to rooms that were too small, room scheduling conflicts, rooms simply not in close proximity to the UNI-Dome’s west campus location, attempts to find a suitable room failed.”

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The proposed upgrades not only would provide a suitable space for football meetings, it would expand the concourse for the public and double as premium seating for UNI games and events.

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

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