Kinnick Stadium – Iowa Hawkeyes
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A New Wave of Traditions at Iowa
Kinnick Stadium has been the home to Iowa Hawkeyes football since 1929; it was changed to its current name in 1972 to honor the legendary Nile Kinnick who is the only player in school history to win the Heisman Trophy in 1939. His presence is still felt with the Hawkeye players touching the helmet on his 12-foot bronze statue on their way into the stadium before each game.
Iowa has always been one of the larger draws in college football consistently ranked in the top 25 in average attendance. The team sported a 20th ranking last season at the 70,585 seat stadium that becomes the fifth largest city in Iowa on game days.
Equally impressive is the amount of time it took to build the stadium. Laborers constructed the facility in 6 months at a cost of $497,151.42. Due to its age and design, there have been numerous renovations during its long history with the most recent taking place in 2006 when the south end section of the stadium was revamped and a new press and hospitality facility was constructed at a cost of $90 million.
Currently, the north end of the stadium is going through an $89 million renovation that will include new restrooms, concourse, concessions, video board, and over 1,600 new premium seats. When completed for the 2019 season the stadium will be closed off producing a much louder facility and continuing the “Kinnick Edge” that has seen the Hawkeyes sport a 5-1 record against Top 5 opponents the past decade.
Food & Beverage 4
The majority of the concession stands are on the east and west sides of the concourse. There are a few carts located throughout the facility with all of them offering quite a bit of variety for a college football stadium.
The Xtreme Hot Dog stand offers a variety of regional hot dogs from around the country. There are the familiar Chicago and New York hot dogs, but also the Kansas City dog that has blue cheese dressing, red onions, bacon, and blue cheese crumbles. The Iowa dog is topped with a mixture of black beans, corn, and a spicy relish. All of these hot dogs sell for $6.50 and can be upgraded to a combo with fries and a souvenir Coca-Cola product for $13.
The other food highlights include pork tenderloin sandwiches for $7, street tacos for $8.50, bacon cheddar chive tater kegs for $7, and homemade cinnamon chipotle kettle chips for $3. The pulled pork is either served on a bun or layered over nachos, both are $8.50. If you favor your basic hot dog, pretzel, and nachos they are available between $4.50 and $6.50. As with the extreme hot dogs, all of these items can be upgraded to a combo as well.
The atmosphere begins well before the game begins in the various tailgating lots that surround Kinnick Stadium. The school has a reputation for its tailgating traditions and many Hawkeye fans can be spotted with a can of Busch Light and a chicken lip-a breaded chicken strip dipped in Buffalo sauce in the other hand.
Once the game starts there are plenty of traditions both new and old that makes creates the stadium’s overall ambiance. The first tradition is known as “The Swarm” when before each game players take the field as a tight group with everyone holding hands and moving at a slow pace. The Swarm is usually accompanied by AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and close to 70,000 fans cheering in unison.
The newest tradition and possibly one that will make you cry is the “Kinnick Wave”. After the first quarter of play, the entire audience, staff, and players face the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and wave to the children and their parents on the 12 floor of the observation floor. The tradition began upon the completion of the hospital in 2017 and will be around for many seasons to come in Iowa City.
The stadium features a special mixture of bricks that are from the Glen-Gery Brickyard in Redfield, Iowa. The blend consists of Redfield Red, Red Flashed, Autumn Haze, and Black Fired and was created to match the original brick design and colors.
The stadium also features pink visiting locker rooms; the color was chosen by former coach Hayden Fry to create a passive mood for opponents before the game. Herky the Mascot has been a fixture at all football games since the mid-1950’s.
The Krause Family Plaza offers food trucks, one selling jalapeno cheese curds, and a large merchandise tent. The area is home to the Kinnick statue, a stage for pre-game concerts, and where players get off the bus to enter the stadium.
Kinnick Stadium is sandwiched in between the streets of downtown Iowa City and within walking distance to many bars, restaurants, and points of interest. After the game, many fans head to DC’s, Hilltop Tavern, and Dave’s Foxhead Tavern for drinks and good times. There are plenty more places to grab a drink and mingle with the college-age crowd.
Iowa City does feature plenty of fine and inexpensive dining including Bluebird Diner, The Airliner, Donnelly’s Pub, Bo-James, and Devotay. Depending on your budget, you are sure to find something to your liking in the city.Attractions in or near Iowa City include the
The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, the old capitol building, and Devonian Fossil Gorge are three other points of interest nearby Iowa City.
Hawkeye fans are a faithful bunch and average crowds ranking into the top 25 of college football. The stadium has sold out 73% of its home games the past 15 years and most are decked in the official school colors of old gold and black. They are in the stands during all four quarters of play and only leave at halftime or the end of regulation.
There is one main concourse where concessions, bathrooms, and exits are located. These areas become overcrowded during halftime and it is suggested to take care of business before or after this time of the game.
Arriving at the game can be challenging as there is limited parking near the downtown stadium. There are visitors who are known to park almost a mile away from the stadium in lots on the main commercial retail street of town. The traffic can get congested close to game time but does run in an orderly fashion thanks to staff members.
After the game, the local staff and city police do an outstanding job directing traffic from the stadium all the way to the interstate-over two miles away. The last police officer is standing at the entrance to I-80 guiding passengers back to their homes or for me my hotel room.
The Hawkeye Express is a bi-level train that can hold up to 1,300 people providing service to and from the stadium from nearby Coralville 3.7 miles away from campus.The cost of the trip is $12 a person round trip.
Return on Investment 4
Single-game tickets alter in price depending on who the Hawks are playing. Tickets can be purchased at the box office for $45 against teams like Wyoming and North Texas, but double in price against powerhouse Big Ten opponents Penn State and Ohio State. Tickets dip to $60 for other Big Ten teams. The average price for tickets is $40, but cheaper alternatives can be found on secondary market ticket websites.
The game you most likely want to attend is against Iowa State where the two in-state rivals battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. The first game between the two teams began in 1894 and has been played consecutively since 1977 with sites alternating each year, games at Kinnick are played in the even-numbered years.
The Kinnick Wave is college football’s newest tradition and I challenge anyone to have a dry eye after you experience just once in person. When the game is at dusk, the 70,000 plus in attendance at the stadium wave their cell phone lights towards the children’s hospital unison after the 1st quarter.
The chicken lips served at the alumni tent are amazing and part of the great tailgating tradition. The breaded tenderloins are breaded, dipped in buffalo sauce and accompanied with either homemade ranch or bleu cheese dressing. They are served on a stick for easy transport.
The relief of Niles Kinnick famous touchdown against Notre Dame is located at the south end of the stadium, just a few feet away from his bronze statue at the exterior of the stadium. Kinnick passed away in an airplane crash during training for the US Army in 1943. His legend is still strong on the campus of the University of Iowa.
Kinnick Stadium is an ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon during the fall months. The classic brick stadium provides an ideal canvas for watching college football and there are enough traditions and history to keep you cheering well after the game. Current renovations taking place as of this writing will improve the stadium experience the next decade and beyond.
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