IOWA CITY — It’s been called a game changer but in less than a month, the Iowa football program will simply call it home.
With plans to move over two days at the start of a bye week in the Hawkeye schedule on Sept. 29, construction crews are racing to complete a $55 million facility which will cover 218,000-square feet when completed.
“It’s not about something that will work for the next five years, it’s about something that will serve us for the next decade and beyond,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday.
Actually the second phase of a two-phase project funded entirely with private donations and athletic department funds, the 110,000-square fee currently under construction includes strength and conditioning space, athletic training facilities, team meeting rooms, position group rooms, equipment rooms and locker rooms as well as offices for coaches and staff members.
At the front is a public commons area which includes a three-story high trophy case that will showcase the Hawkeye program past and present not only to fans, but to recruits. A video wall is among things people will notice. Above the entry doors is a Tiger Hawk etched in glass above the words “Iowa Football.’’
The new construction is attached to phase one of the project, a 108,000-square foot indoor practice facility which is adjacent to the Hawkeyes’ outdoor practice fields, all located a long touchdown pass away from Kinnick Stadium.
“Everything is under one roof,’’ Iowa senior associate director of athletics Jane Meyer said Tuesday. “When you look at this, the players when they come in, they have their meeting space, their locker room, all in one place. To be able to go in and out of an indoor facility, or to be able to come in at any hour to hone their skills, it’s a very efficient space for our student-athletes.’’
Ferentz describes the facility as “sensible,’’ containing amenities commonplace in the rapidly-changing world of intercollegiate athletics. There was enough flexibility built into plans that when the NCAA mandated earlier this year making snacks available to student-athletes around the clock that a nutrition nook was added to the design.
A wide central hallway runs from the front to the back of the facility, designed for the easy movement of equipment. On one side of the hall on the first floor sits locker rooms, featuring lockers 36 inches wide and with two areas that lock, and athletic training space. On the other, a mammoth 20,000-square foot strength and conditioning facility that will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.
Back doors of the strength and conditioning space, which replaces an 8,000-square foot area at the current football facility, connect to the indoor practice facility.
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The second floor includes team meeting spaces, smaller position group rooms as well as a team room which includes 180 comfortable 22-inch-wide chairs each with a Tiger Hawk emblem. The team room, complete with whiteboards and built-in projection equipment, can be split in half for offensive and defensive unit meetings.
Nearby are offices. A row of offices are designated for each assistant coach and the office Ferentz will utilize is modest in size and located near the front of the building where it overlooks Kinnick Stadium.
“That will be the fifth office I’ve had since I’ve been here,’’ said Ferentz, recalling former office space at the Iowa Field House and Carver-Hawkeye Arena before current offices were built at the Jacobson Football Complex.
“Going back to the (practice) bubble, when that went up, it was state of the art,’’ Ferentz said. “None of these things have happened with ease but people have really backed the program. I’m so appreciative, not only for the people who have their names on the walls, but for everybody who chipped in.’’
The present objective is to complete all team-related areas of the facility in time for a move on Sept. 29-30. Construction will continue on public areas after that date for a building that uses chilled water to heat and cool and meets university objectives for LEED silver-level requirements for sustainability.