UI officials start modifications to Field House


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Renovation has begun on the 85-year-old Field House in order to improve access to the congested University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics complex.

The 240,000-square-foot facility has been a part of the UI community since 1927, and it was most recently renovated in 1985. Its features include 10 basketball/volleyball courts, a climbing gym, classrooms, saunas, 16 racquetball courts, six multi-activity rooms, a cycling studio, and a swimming pool.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said the project’s goal is to enhance traffic flow to the health-science area, specifically the hospital.

“The basic project is creating a new roadway through the ‘Main Street,’ ” said Hugh Barry, a senior design project manager for UI Facilities Management. “Everything that currently resides there will be relocated to the new southeast entrance. A new overhead between the South Gym and swimming pool will also be constructed.”

Harry Ostrander, director of UI Recreational Services, said the 13-month renovation and modification project is necessary to accommodate the new $292 million UI Children’s Hospital, on which construction started in late September.

The roughly $8 million modification project, slated for an October 2013 completion, will be finished three years ahead of the planned 2016 opening of the new Children’s Hospital.

UI freshmen and Iowa City natives Jenny Hanson and Erin Helm frequent the newer Rec Center more than the Field House, but they favor the slight modifications being done to the Field House.

“It’s really frustrating to drive around the roundabout, and it’s good to simplify the driving situation,” Hanson said. “I’m glad that [UI officials] aren’t destroying the Field House, because I think it’s important to keep the historical aspect in tact.”

Helm agrees that the project will improve accessibility around the main hospital complex.

“I don’t think a whole new renovation to the Field House is necessary being that the new Rec Center was built right down the road,” Helm said. “Everyone gets crazy on game day and the roads are always crowded. It’s good to add the road for better access.”

Last year, more than 1.3 million visits were made to all of the UI’s recreational facilities. Between 2,000 and 2,500 visits are made to the Field House each day, dwarfed only by the Rec Center. That facility sees 4,000 and 6,000 visits daily despite being less than one mile from the Field House.

UI sophomore Anthony Patterson, who frequents the Field House to use the many basketball courts, said he would like to see it remain on campus long-term.

“It’s less congested than the Rec, and it costs less for people without memberships,” he said.
“A lot of my friends who aren’t in college can come there for less. I think the university is doing a good job keeping the facilities clean and updated.”

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