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Lunch-box initiative hopes to engage student fans

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | JUNE 22, 2009 7:21 AM

Looking for a way to add excitement to the upcoming football and men’s basketball seasons, the Iowa athletics department is off to a great start with its lunch-box program.

Starting with the 2009-10 academic year, it will offer all UI students a lunch box with the purchase of both football and men’s basketball season tickets as a method of adding additional value. With more than 2,900 tickets purchased last spring for both football and men’s basketball, Associate Athletics Director Rick Klatt said he has modest expectations.

“We’re looking for ways to create excitement among our students and especially our incoming freshman class,” he said.

He plans on utilizing student orientation as a way to introduce the lunch-box program, he said, and as a way to “capitalize on the excitement of the freshman class.”

“It’s an important class for campus. Freshmen have the highest participation in school-related events,” he said. “We have more than 4,000 incoming students, and the participation percentage is a huge number.”

Last year’s student orientations were disrupted by the flood, which Klatt said had an effect on ticket sales.

“There was a significant impact on basketball. It became more challenging because of the flood,” he said. “Ticket sales for football haven’t been a problem, but basketball has room to grow.”

The other exclusive benefits the program offers is a lunch-box lecture series and seminars, which will allow students to tour areas such as Kinnick Stadium’s visiting pink locker room that aren’t typically accessible to the public.

UI President Sally Mason and head wrestling coach Tom Brands are set to open the series with the first lecture at Kinnick Stadium, scheduled for Aug. 30. There are four to five lectures scheduled that will offer both athletics and educational speakers. Men’s basketball coach Todd Lickliter is also one of the speakers, at a time to be determined.

“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for students to increase their engagements of Hawkeye athletics, and to enhance their experience on campus,” university spokesman Tom Moore said.

Also included in this will be a Football 101.

“Football 101 is designed to introduce and teach new students the traditions here at the University of Iowa,” Klatt said. “Things such as the I-O-W-A swarm, or the ‘Fight Song’ among other things. This has never been done, officially.”

The lunch-box program will also be used to promote students to attend sporting events besides football and men’s basketball. Stickers are planned to be handed out to students who attend sporting events for the other Iowa sports programs with prizes given at the end of the school year to those who accumulate the most.

Another idea mentioned was the lunch-box patrol. Any students brave enough to walk around campus with their lunch boxes may be stopped by the lunch-box patrol and be rewarded with prizes such as $50 gift card to the Iowa Hawk Shop.

Klatt believes the lunch box is something the students will appreciate and find a way to have fun with.

“It says that there is work to do here, and that you should be serious about your academics,” he said. “The lunch box is also meant to symbolize all of the hard work we’ve done over the past year at the UI recovering from the flood.”


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