Iowa unveils table seating for men's basketball games as 'pilot project'
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa men's basketball fans will have a new seating option this season called the Carver Terrace.
The university installed tables that seat about 100 people at the top of the stands behind the basket for this season. Wait staff will serve food and beverages, but not alcohol for now, to those who buy either a two-seat or four-seat table.
Athletic director Gary Barta on Thursday called it "a pilot project" to see how popular it is with fans. He said the university decided to try it out after seeing it done elsewhere.
"We're constantly trying to find new ideas to enhance the fan experience," Barta said. "We didn't want to do a thousand of these. We wanted to start with 100 and see how popular it becomes."
Season-ticket packages are being sold for the tables at $1,500 a seat. Barta said the goal is to sell about half of the spots on a season-long basis and leave the rest for sale game-by-game.
"We can have a lot of people experience it and then sell them more permanently in the future," Barta said.
Purchase of the table seats includes a parking pass and access to the Feller Room on the lower level of Carver-Hawkeye Arena before games and at halftime. Alcohol is available for purchase there. Barta said he will consider selling beer and wine at Carver Terrace in future years.
The table seats will be used for men's basketball games only for now, since the upper seats at CHA are typically curtained off for women's basketball and volleyball games. Barta said that if there's enough fan interest in a particular game they might discard the curtain and sell the seats. It's also possible they could be used at wrestling matches.
The men's basketball season begins Thursday with a home game against Missouri-Kansas City.
The season also contains the final Hy-Vee Classic in Des Moines, with Iowa facing Northern Iowa on Dec. 15. Barta said he opted out of that event once the Big Ten Conference expanded its regular-season schedule from 18 to 20 games.
Iowa's schedule includes an annual meeting with Iowa State, plus an ACC opponent (this year, it's Pitt). The Hawkeyes are also often part of the Gavitt Games pitting Big Ten teams against Big East squads, although this year they do not have an opponent. Barta cited those matchups as another reason to forego playing a neutral-site game against either Drake or UNI each winter.
"It was just something that isn't going to be able to fit into our scheduling," Barta said.
Next year, Iowa will replace the annual game in Des Moines with a trip to the United Center in Chicago, where the Hawkeyes will face Cincinnati on Dec. 21 as part of a double-header.
"We have more than 30,000 alums in Chicago. It's a great recruiting area for us," Barta said. "Twenty Big Ten games is what really drove (the end of the Hy-Vee Classic), but we're going to try some other events in years that we can fit it in."
The Chicago game is a one-year contract, Barta said.
He also said he'd be open to playing Drake or Northern Iowa in men's basketball in future years, but there are no immediate plans to do so.
"We have to look at the total schedule and the strength of schedule," Barta said. "We're going to have one of the most difficult schedules in the Big Ten this year. So we've got to balance that out."
Iowa's nonconference schedule includes a tournament in Madison Square Garden in New York that opens with a game against Oregon. The Hawkeyes will play either Connecticut or Syracuse the next day.
But it also includes homes games with Green Bay, Alabama State, Western Carolina, Savannah State and Bryant.