turf

The new look of the turf being installed this summer at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

It won't catch a pass.

It won't result in an extra tackle.

It won't in all likelihood lead to a decision in the recruiting process.

Yet, there is something to the announcement made by Iowa that the new turf being installed at Kinnick Stadium will include a Tigerhawk at midfield, 10 yards long and large enough to catch the eye of passing television cameras as Akrum Wadley breaks a run toward the end zone.

This isn't the first time Iowa has had any sort of logo of its own on the playing surface at Kinnick Stadium.

A large block "I'' was located at midfield from 1972-80, topping an unforgiving first-generation turf that had all the give of an asphalt parking lot.

In the season since - including years with turf, years with real grass and years following the return of the turf - Iowa's playing surface has simply been that, a playing surface.

That changes Sept. 2 when Wyoming arrives at Kinnick Stadium for the first of Iowa's seven home games this fall.

The new FieldTurf that is being installed this summer among the first part of the Kinnick Edge project which will lead to a new north end zone grandstand scheduled to finished by 2019, will include the university's Tigerhawk logo in black with gold trim.

With the Tigerhawk at midfield, the north end zone at Kinnick will now feature only the word "Iowa'' without the Tigerhawk logo that has appeared there since the last turf was installed.

The south end zone will remain unchanged with the word "Hawkeyes'' across it.

Yard-line numbers on the new turf will match the same font as the "Iowa'' and "Hawkeyes'' in the end zone, using a script that has become standard throughout the Iowa athletics department.

The midfield logo is more than something that meets the requests from fans that director of athletics Gary Barta has heard on a regular basis.

It also meets that marketing reality that is today's intercollegiate athletics, providing another way for the Hawkeyes to "sell'' their image that is available to fans on all sorts of gear.

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Like the arches at McDonalds or the logo on a can of soda pop, the Tigerhawk is Iowa's identity.

As Barta stated in a release announcing the logo, "Wherever you go in the state, across the country or throughout the world, when you wear the logo on your shirt, a friendly 'Go Hawks' shout is inevitable. The current Kinnick Stadium renovation provided an opportunity to add the Tigerhawk to the field.''

He went on to say that it "will provide another great touch to an already iconic stadium.''

Much like the Spartan logo that can be found on the turf at Michigan State's Spartan Stadium or the initials that can be found at midfield at 10 other Big Ten venues - Penn State will be the only Big Ten turf without a logo - the Tigerhawk will say "Iowa'' to viewers and spectators.

Amid video boards at the stadium and the colorful graphics that adorn walls in the Hawkeyes' football facility, they all sell the program to fans and to recruits and allow the institution to build on its existing brand.

In this era of a rapidly-changing game in college athletics, you are either moving forward or you are stuck in the past.

That as much as anything is a sign of the times.

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