UI Marching Band eyes new practice space


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After yet another Hawkeye Marching Band practice, the members retired their instruments to a trailer sealed with tar in order to prevent leaking on the instruments.

“Does this look like something from the Big Ten?” said Marching Band Director Kevin Kastins, glancing at the tarnished trailers.

Currently, the 250-member band practices on a field behind Parklawn Residence Hall and in church pews of the Riverside Recital Hall.  Kastins said the band faces several problems at its current practice location, including a lack of bathrooms, parking spots, and storage space.

“Moving the instruments is probably the biggest hassle,” said Kyle Pape, a four-year member of the band’s crew.

Pape, along with other members of the crew, spend at least 20 hours a week moving instruments among buildings and loading the four trailers and single U-Haul.

Despite these setbacks, the Marching Band continues to work with its location.

The Marching Band lost its facility during the 2008 flood, but big plans are in store for it — $3 million plans.

“We’re just long overdue,” Kastens said.

On Sept. 12, the state Board of Regents gave the UI approval to begin the initial planning for an expansion of the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex, possibly on the east end of the facility.

“There are certainly many complicated components, which is why we asked for permission to proceed,” said Rod Lehnertz , the UI Facilities Management director of Planning, Design, & Construction.

While a cost hasn’t been decided, UI officials estimate the project will cost $15 million. The funding will come from the athletics, recreation, and general funding because of the three entities — athletes, band members, and the UI students — that will benefit from the new facilities, Lehnertz said. While only estimates are available, the expected costs for the space solely for the Marching Band is roughly $3 million.

“We love the neighborhood and the neighbors,” Kastins said. “But the Marching Band really needs [the facilities] for an adequate experience.”

Because the project is still in the initial planning stages, there is no specific design or schedule set for the new facilities, but Lehnertz said the planning should take a more concrete form during the course of the next winter and spring.

He estimates the band will need 10,000 square feet to accommodate its needs, but that square footage wouldn’t suffice for the additional recreation and athletics needs.

“We need to study more to serve the needs of the student and athletes,” he said.  ”That’s a part of this process — more definition.”

The Marching Band and its crewmembers express nothing but excitement during these initial planning stages.  

“I just — I’m so excited for that,” said Quentin Marquez, a sophomore drum major. “The flood did some nasty things to the music school.”

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