Athletics officials discuss Football Operations Center progress


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Thursday marked the last meeting this academic year for the University of Iowa Presidential Committee on Athletics, during which officials announced plans for a 2014 opening of the new Football Operations Center.

The center will be connected to the new indoor practice facility, located within short walking distance of Kinnick Stadium.

The project was conceptualized several years ago in conjunction with plans for the indoor practice facility, with the practice facility as phase one and the Operations Center being phase two. The two projects will cost $55 million.

With two floors and 76,000 square feet, the Operations Center will contain a museum-like exhibit called Legacy Hall, an All-American room featuring team space for hospitality and special events, locker rooms, and training facilities, among other things.

Legacy Hall is set to be a space dedicated to the history of Hawkeye football, using informational kiosks and displays, offering a worthwhile experience for both hard-core Hawkeye fans and football recruits.

The project will also include a 2,500-square-foot player lounge, designed specifically to accommodate team members. The lounge will house video games, table games, and television sets for players to relax between engagements.

“What we needed most was to replace the Bubble, because it was about to go extinct,” said N. William Hines, the head of the Athletics Committee. “The weight-training facility, and all that sort of stuff, was quickly becoming old and obsolete.”

“The Bubble” was the UI’s 27-year-old indoor football practice station, famously deflated in April 2012 in anticipation of the new facility.

“The Jacobsen Building is also at least 20 years old,” Hines said. “It doesn’t contain the facilities or the space that are necessary for modern football.”

Indeed, the new training facilities will be state-of-the-art, and all aspects of the Hawkeye football program will be connected and/or easily accessed by players, faculty, and fans alike.

Along with construction plans for the new facility, a number of changes to Kinnick Stadium’s scoreboard are currently underway. Changes will include a brand-new video wall, an 8-foot high ribbon board, countdown clocks, and a corresponding digital clock on the north end of the stadium.

Funded almost entirely by fundraising, the Football Operations Center has a $30 million to $35 million fundraising goal. Currently, fundraising has exceeded $30 million.

While the university often uses bonds in order to fund projects such as this, none were used for financing the Operations Center, though the project did require some help with short-term financing.

Senior Associate Athletics Director Jane Meyer said fewer than 5 percent of construction to the Operations Center has been completed.

Despite that, officials are optimistic about the projected fall 2014 opening date.

“It’s all about enhancing the fan experience,” said Curtis Chung, a member of the Athletics Committee.

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