Friend of the Pants Marc Morehouse just reported an incoming request from the Iowa athletic department to the Board of Regents: an overhaul of the north stands and concourse at Kinnick Stadium, at an estimated cost of $35-45 million. The north stands are in the end zone that isn't for students, if you're not great with directions.
These stands are what they've been for decades, with the exception of a recently-added video board and ribbon. The UI's request calls them "functionally obsolete by modern day standards," and seeks what looks to be a pretty substantial overhaul. From the document acquired by The Gazette:
Fixing all seating issues;
Creating suites and other premium seating options;
Improving concourse amenities;
Increasing audio/visual technology and "branding" throughout;
Creating spaces with modern amenities such as plazas and patios;
Modernizing restroom facilities;
Updating food-service/vending options;
Developing additional resource opportunities for non-game day events/programs;
Improving accessibility for fans; and
Improving the flow of spectators within and around the north side of the stadium.
That's more than a tweak. The accessibility and flow did need work, but they're at the bottom of the list for a reason. This sounds an awful lot like the recent project at Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State, which created something of a premium sitting area and allows for a patio with limited alcoholic options for, let's say, "valued patrons." There's no explicit mention of alcohol sales in this request, but it's for construction funds; one imagine the licensing question comes later. And it's awfully hard not to read that possibility into points 2, 3, 5 and 7. Not only is the alcohol plaza at Jack Trice, but even in the Big Ten it's there at TCF Bank Stadium at Minnesota and at Ross-Ade Stadium at Purdue; there's two immediate rivals and Our Most Hated Rival that Iowa can now claim to be falling behind when it comes to "modern amenities" and "vending options."
One other thing to consider is space. The north end zone structure backs all the way up to Evashevski Drive, with a parking ramp and recently renovated transportation structure on the other edge of the street. Those aren't going anywhere—not for a project that's coming in under $50 million—so if "plazas and patios" are coming and they've got sight lines to the field, it's probably at the expense of overall capacity.
If, if that's the case, are you cool with a Kinnick Stadium that seats under 70,000? Is that a big deal, or is that less of a concern if Iowa's not routinely filling the place to begin with anymore?
So some big changes are coming to Kinnick, and we won't be certain what they are until Iowa releases some proposed blueprints/renderings/what-have-you. But this appears to be a trend in stadium modernization, and likely a welcome (if not exactly cheap) one.
What say you all? Are you looking forward to the changes or dreading them? Is this a necessary addition to the Stadium Experience or is College Athletics Ruined Forever?