Iowa Football

Iowa football maintains attendance; Iowa State climbs in 2017

Iowa searching to 'right size' Kinnick Stadium

Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)
Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)

Iowa and Iowa State were top 30 college football teams ... in attendance.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones finished 8-5 last season. In the three seasons before 2017, which included a Liberty Bowl victory over Memphis, Iowa State finished 2-10, 3-9 and 3-9. During this successful run, Cyclone fans bought in.

Iowa State averaged 57,931 fans at Jack Trice Stadium in 2017, No. 28 in the nation.

Iowa State also enjoyed the fifth highest rise in attendance from 2016. Iowa State averaged 5,374 more fans per game in 2017 than 2016. Iowa State was out of the top 30 in attendance last season at 52,557.

Iowa’s attendance fell in 2017. In 2016, Iowa was 20th in the nation with 69,565 fans per game at Kinnick Stadium. This year, Iowa averaged 66,337 fans. This is coming off a year in 2016 that saw Iowa’s crowd increase from 63,142, an increase of 6,514, which was No. 8 in attendance jump last year.

Still, Iowa finished No. 22 in the nation. Iowa usually is a top 25 team in attendance. In 2015, the Hawkeyes were 24th in the country with 63,142 fans.

The last year Iowa averaged a sellout for the season was 2011. At full capacity that year, Iowa averaged 70,585 and finished No. 21 in the nation in attendance.

In 2017’s total attendance, Michigan finished No. 1 with 111,589 and Ohio State was No. 2 at 107,495. Oklahoma State was No. 30 with 56,790 fans per game.

Kinnick Stadium is undergoing a $90 million renovation of the north end zone. When this is complete — the north end zone will be open but not fully operational in 2018 — Kinnick’s official capacity is expected to drop under 70,000.


“I think it’s 69-something, but I don’t have it exactly yet and it won’t be done exactly until all of the seats are in,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said.

A final capacity won’t be known until all of the seats are physically put into the north end zone structure, which, right now, is the rubble of the old north end zone bleachers.

You could argue this is the cost of comfort. Throughout the years, the biggest complaint in the north end zone has been the cramped quarters. Also, this is the last part of the stadium that needed an upgrade. The north end zone hadn’t been touched since the 1980s.

Now, the website promises, “extra-wide outdoor seating with chair backs, armrests, and drink holders.”

Construction is on time to open the north end zone in August. Restrooms and concessions won’t be “100 percent ready” in 2018. Some construction elements will continue throughout the season.

“We’re focusing on the seating bowl and having that ready,” assistant athletics director for facilities Damian Simcox said. “We’re going to make accommodations for everything else, amenities, restrooms and concession stands.”

After the 2018 season, the north end zone will be completed. Barta knows what look Iowa is going for when the project is complete.

“Imagine more of a sports bar feel with a brushed concrete or a different kind of polished concrete,” Barta said. “A lot of televisions, but again, just more of that sports bar feel is more what that end zone will feel like and look like.”


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You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days. says the 17,000 square-foot climate-controlled Ted Pacha Family Club will feature HD televisions and Wi-Fi service.

There are no indoor suites in the north end zone, but there are 11 loge boxes. Those are outdoor boxes with 11 or 12 seats and concrete walls around them. There’s a radiant heat source and beverage and food service. Barta said the demand for loge boxes reached 35.

By the way, the annual contribution for north end zone club seats will be $1,958 per seat. That is a tribute to Iowa’s 1958 team, a Rose Bowl victor.

“We wanted to have premium seating for multiple levels of budget,” Barta said. “The end zone seats are less expensive than the seats between the goal lines and the club. If you can’t get in here because these are sold out or if you’re budget is such that you don’t want to do it at this level, then there’s an alternative for you that’s cool but less expensive.”

This comes in three different price-entry points: You can have a seat with a bench, a seat with a back or the club seats in the end zone. Better move fast on those. There are 1,600 club seats for sale, and 1,300 of those are gone.

“At some point, we’ll stop selling them because we’ll need extras as we get closer to 2019,” Barta said. “So far, so good.”

In 2013, Iowa installed a ribbon scoreboard in the north end zone. The cost was $9 million. Iowa is examining how much of those scoreboards and videoboards can be re-purposed.

“We’re still talking to the manufacturers and the scoreboard people about how much we can re-purpose here or somewhere else in the athletics department,” Barta said. There are several units to the scoreboard and this is a process of figuring out what plugs into what. An example of Iowa re-purposing scoreboards can be found at the softball complex, where the softball team uses a videoboard that used to be in Kinnick.


“Our plan is to have one big board,” Barta said. “I don’t know how much we can re-purpose here or re-purpose somewhere else in the athletics department.”

Kinnick Stadium failed to sell out a single game in 2017. In 2016, Iowa sold out four Kinnick games — Iowa State, North Dakota State, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In FCS attendance, Northern Iowa finished 30th with an average attendance fo 9,696 fans. In Division III, Dubuque was 10th with 3,884 fans. Wartburg finished 28th with 2,935.

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