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  • Chuck Utech

Kinnick Stadium - Iowa Hawkeyes

Photos by Chuck Uteck, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Kinnick Stadium 886 Stadium Dr Iowa City, IA 52242

Year Opened: 1929

Capacity: 70,585

Riding the Wave

The University of Iowa Hawkeyes football team plays their games at Kinnick Stadium, formerly known as Iowa Stadium. This 69,250 seat oval was changed in 1972 to honor Iowa’s only Heisman Trophy winner, Nile Kinnick. Greeting visitors at the south entrance is a Bronze statue of Kinnick, who died in 1942 during a training flight with the United States Navy. By capacity, Kinnick ranks 27th in largest college football stadiums. Over the last five years, attendance has it at 21st overall. In 2015, Kinnick set a national collegiate wrestling dual meet attendance record by packing in over 42,000.

The stadium saw major renovations in 1956, 1983, 1990, 2006 and the last which began in 2017 and finished at the start of the 2019 season. The nearly 90 million dollar project included new concessions, restrooms, an upgraded concourse, box seating, outdoor club seating in the north end zone as well as a larger north end zone scoreboard.

Food & Beverage 4

At an Iowa football game one can find both traditional sporting event fare as well as some non-traditional options. There are ample booths on the east and west sides as well as a couple on the north and south edges for fan convenience.

Wimmers hot dogs are featured. A basic hot dog is $4.50; polish sausage $5.50. Peanuts, popcorn and nachos range from $5-$7, although a souvenir popcorn tub is $12 and includes one free return back for more.

The B&G Burger stand provides for $7 Loaded Hawk Tots (bacon, sour cream, cheese and chives) as well as a 319 (local area code) Burger for $8.50. The Boulevard Grill on the northeast side offers cheeseburgers, pizza burgers, tenderloins, and chicken tenders all at $7.50. For a slightly different take—try the mac and cheese or BBQ pork nachos for $8.50.

Coca-Cola products are served at $5 for a regular or $6.50 for a souvenir cup.

Atmosphere 5

Tailgating begins early around Kinnick. Lots tend to fill up fairly fast and then the air is subsequently filled with the aroma of grills, the crackling sound of cold beers being opened and hoots and hollers from various tailgate games like bags (cornhole).

Once inside, the fun continues. “The Swarm” is when players take the field as a tight group with everyone holding hands and moving at a slow pace prior to the game. This is accompanied by AC/DC’s “Back in Black” with the fans roaring.

Following scoring plays, the stadium becomes 65,000 plus attended spelling bee. Only one word is on this list, IOWA. Chants of “I – O – W – A” start from one corner and work around the bricks of Kinnick. From time to time, a zealous fan will stand in a section and offer a mini version of that to get their local group fired up.

In 2017, the latest and greatest tradition began at Kinnick. Following completion of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital that overlooks Kinnick, came “The Wave.” At the end of the first quarter, fans, players, coaches and staff turn to face the hospital and wave to the children and families. It is not easy to maintain a dry eye and yet smile as the legions of fans wave in unison and the children and families wave back.

The Krause Family Plaza on the south side of the stadium is the place to gather pre and postgame. It has food trucks, vendor booths, and a large tent for Iowa merchandise. Players get off the bus at this area and enter the stadium. In addition, there are two stages for concerts as well as local broadcasts. There are multiple photo opportunities, including the Kinnick statue, an IOWA sign as well as the overall gathering. Just outside the plaza is a gathering area featuring a large combine. Once used as a way of life for farmers, now it’s a tailgate way of life on Saturdays.

Iowa colors are black and gold. In the visiting locker room, however, is the color pink, chosen by former coach Hayden Fry. It was his thought that this would lead to a “passive mood.”

Neighborhood 4

Kinnick Stadium is located between Iowa City and Coralville, Iowa. Coralville has some popular restaurants such as The Wig & Pen Pizza Pub and the Iowa River Power Co. Restaurant. For more traditional items, the Coralville Mall features various inexpensive to fine dining choices. In Iowa City, downtown has a plethora of choices, like the Airliner, The Dandy Lion, The Mill and The Bluebird Diner. A fun spot to visit is tiny John’s grocery. The legendary building that holds the over 70 year old neighborhood grocery has been a fire station, apartments, a saloon, a barbershop, and even a toiletry factory. It is a great visit before or after the game.

In and around Iowa City is the Coralville Mall for a shopping experience. Just outside though are a couple gems. Twenty minutes to the west are the Amana colonies. Amana was settled in the 1850’s by Germans and is comprised of seven communities. During the year there are many festivals. During the football season, Oktoberfest is celebrated there and is a great getaway less than a half hour away from Kinnick.

Fans 4

Hawkeye football saw a resurgence with the arrival of Hayden Fry. Under current coach Kirk Ferentz, fans also have enjoyed consistent winning seasons. They have come out in droves consistently for the past 40 years. The fans are knowledgeable and boisterous on game day. Check ahead for themes; certain games will be “Black Out” or Black and Gold in certain sections. “Iowa Nice” is in full affect with the fans and staff.

Access 4

There is one main oval concourse where concessions, bathrooms, and exits are located. These areas can become busy during halftime but the recent renovations have helped with traffic flow.

Arriving at the game can be a challenge but options are aplenty. Kinnick is situated in the middle of a neighborhood with hospitals, the Fieldhouse, Carver Hawkeye Arena and school buildings nearby. There are few lots for parking. Parking can be had in the neighborhoods for a price or depending on one’s wanting to walk for free. Before and after the game, staff and local police do a tremendous job with the throngs of spectators and keeping the traffic flowing. An outstanding option for those also wanting an exit close to I-80 is the Hawkeye Express. This train runs from just outside the mall to the stadium on game days. Cost is $15 for a roundtrip ticket.

Return on Investment 4

Ticket prices can vary depending on opponent. Early non-conference games average around $50 while highly sought after games like the Iowa State game (at Iowa every other year) can begin around $90. An average seat for a Big Ten game can be found a lot of times on secondary markets for $60-$70.

Extras 3

The Wave is worth the price of admission. Kinnick also hosts an annual 5k in the fall that allows participants to finish on the field and wave to the hospital upon completion.

The Kinnick Statue as well as his speech at the Heisman trophy ceremony are must see.

Final Thoughts

Kinnick Stadium is a great choice for a Saturday in the fall. Crisp air, football and 65,000 or so fans. Renovations, the Wave, and a winning football team bring a heightened level of excitement to the area. The thrill of Saturdays in the fall is captured at Kinnick Stadium.

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