A peek inside the March 29 practice in Iowa City. Chad Leistikow/The Register
Iowa's spring football return to Valley Stadium, dubbed "Swarm Des Moines," comes with a promotional wrinkle and a different schedule.
In a new promotion, the UI athletics department will distribute 120 specially marked footballs that will be hidden in the Des Moines area. Once found, they can be redeemed for prizes on the night of the April 7 practice at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
According to the UI, the footballs will be hidden during two windows next week: Tuesday from 4-6 p.m. at the Mills Civic Parkway Hy-Vee (555 S. 51st Street) in West Des Moines; and Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at Billion Automotive in Clive (9060 Hickman Road). Fans attending the Thursday event can see Herky the Hawk and the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry trophy.
This marks the fifth consecutive year that the Hawkeye football program is using one of its permitted 15 spring practices to bring the team to Valley Stadium, and the second straight Friday night event.
The UI also released final details for the practice for fans: Gates will open at 5 p.m.; practice begins at roughly 6:30; with a 35-minute youth clinic (for the first 300 children ages 7-12) and autograph session to follow.
Liability-release forms, available at the practice, must be signed by the clinic participant's parent/guardian and presented to UI staff by 7:15 p.m.
Admission to the practice and clinic are free. Concessions will be available; no outside food or drink is permitted.
Things to keep an eye on as Kirk Ferentz's team progresses through spring camp. James Kramer/The Register
One other note on autographs: It's kids-only, and only items issued at the practice by the UI are permitted to be signed by players and coaches.
Iowa's spring game will be two weeks later, at 7 p.m. on April 21 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
"It's a small way for us to say thank you to the fans, all the people that venture over to Kinnick on the weekends in the fall," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of the Valley practice. "For them to have a little shorter drive maybe; (for) some people a home game. Even people on the western side of the state, surrounding states, give them an opportunity to see the team without traveling as far."