Iowa City, Ia. — A football season full of sellouts will not alter the long-term vision of Iowa athletic director Gary Barta.
That means there are no immediate plans for expanding Kinnick Stadium, and no projected increases in the overall athletic department budget based on potential ticket sales for 2011.
“We’ll go in conservatively, like we always do,” Barta said. “And then if (another season sellout) happens, it just allows us to do other things.”
The Hawkeyes (7-3) host Ohio State (9-1) in their 2009 home finale, airing on ABC at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
It was announced in August that every ticket for every game this season had been sold, including more than 59,000 season tickets — an increase of roughly 11,000 from 2009.
School officials said it was the first time in memory that a season sellout had happened so soon.
Iowa was coming off an 11-2 season and an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech.
“One of the things that I start with is historically, if you look at Hawkeye fans, whether we’re having a great season or we struggled the year before, it’s amazing how that stadium fills up year to year,” Barta said. “We’re not going to go into any year and budget 100 percent ticket sales, because that would be unrealistic.
“When it happens, it’s great.”
Saturday will mark Iowa’s 49th sellout in the past 51 games, which causes some to wonder if officials might consider expanding the stadium to seat more people.
“Certainly we talk about it, we think about it going into the future” Barta said. “But one of things you have to ask yourself (about) is balance.”
“The one thing you don’t ever want to happen is for there to all of a sudden become a chunk of tickets available, because then the bottom drops out.”
Kinnick Stadium, which under went a $90 million renovation project completed in 2007, ranks sixth in the 11-team Big Ten Conference, with a capacity of 70,585.
Some visitors, however, rank the atmosphere in Iowa City on par with more renowned football settings.
“I’ve always admired the fan base in Iowa,” said ESPN analyst Chris Spielman, a former Ohio State linebacker. “because of their passion for football.”
Spielman feels schools need to proceed with caution when trying to keep pace with other programs.
“You have to be careful anytime you talk about that,” he said, “because there is a facilities race and a stadiums race.
“It’s competition and you don’t want to fall behind too many times. But if they do expand it, I would highly advise that they have a fan base to make sure it is sold.”
Barta’s current point of interest involves upgrading football facilities such as lockers, strength and conditioning centers, video operations, team meeting rooms and an indoor practice facility known as “the Bubble.”
Barta discussed those possible renovations with the Iowa Board of Regents in March. He will return to the regents at a future date with a formal plan and request to begin the project.
No cost estimate has been set.
“(Stadium expansion is) certainly something maybe down the road,” Barta said, “but I know it won’t be in the very short future because we have some football facilities related to the bubble and practice operations.
“That will sort of be the next big project,” Barta said “And so (stadium expansion) certainly isn’t going to happen until that’s done. It’ll be out there a ways if it happens.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football