Iowa eyeing Kinnick rehab, new dorm aimed at athletes

Jeff Charis-Carlson
Iowa  coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes visits with athletic director Gary Barta. Barta is pushing a bold facilities plan for an updated Kinnick Stadium and a new residence hall aimed at student-athletes.

The University of Iowa is introducing plans for $130 million of facility upgrades related to athletics, including dormitories and a renovation of Kinnick Stadium.

The long-term vision will be shared during next week’s Iowa Board of Regents telephonic meeting.

“The key to success in the Big Ten Conference is recruiting the most talented student-athletes in the country,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said in a statement, “and world-class facilities are a large part of the recruitment process.”

The proposals include an estimated $85 million student-housing project near the athletics complex, designed for first- and second-year students. The school says this will help student-athlete efficiency. The project would add between 500 and 600 beds and would be covered by the athletic department and dormitory revenue bonds, UI says.

“For years we have been ‘sold out’ or at capacity and unable to serve many returning students who would choose to live in the residence system,” UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said. “We also have fewer beds on our campus than many of our peers. This will help us address that concern as we experience a growth in students.”

In addition to the residence hall, between $35 million and $45 million is proposed to renovate the home of Iowa football, specifically the north end zone at Kinnick Stadium. UI hasn’t upgraded that area since the 1983 season. In documents, UI says the north end zone proposal would include premium seating options such as suites, modernization of restrooms and updating food and vending options.

Iowa’s last major renovation at Kinnick Stadium came in 2005-06, with upgrades to the south end zone and the press box.

“When it comes to facilities, we’re continually working with our coaching staff to identify what we need to succeed and set priorities,” Barta said. “We are also committed to enhancing the experience for our fans. This next master plan addresses these priorities.”

The exact location of the new residence hall is still to be determined, but it is expected to be located near Kinnick Stadium and the West Campus Transportation Center.

That location is designed to make the new facility attractive to athletes and non-athletes alike, Beck said. That’s an important feature given that NCAA rules require any residence hall to be a minimum of 51 percent non-athlete — not only for the entire building, but for each of the individual floors.

“The proximity to the athletics complex allows for efficiency for student athletes; the proximity to the medical campus is also beneficial for students who work at UIHC or study in the many laboratories on the west side of campus,” Beck said.

The facility will include a dining venue and other standard resident amenities, but several additional features provided primarily for student athletes — such as an athletic training table, equipment and learning resources — will make the new facility more expensive than UI’s other new residence halls, according to the agenda items released Tuesday for next week’s board meeting.

UI’s Petersen Hall, for example, which opened earlier this month, will house about 500 students beginning in the fall semester and cost $53 million.

UI is constructing a $95 million residence hall on Madison Street, near the Iowa Memorial Union. That facility, which is scheduled to open before fall 2017, is estimated to cost more than the proposed westside residence hall, but it will house more than 1,000 students.

— The Register’s Chad Leistikow contributed to this story.