The Daily Iowan

Know your campus: A Hawkeye icon for 80 years

TESSA McLEAN

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It is a symbol of Hawkeye pride, and this year Kinnick Stadium is getting a makeover in its 80th year on campus.

Kinnick Stadium was named after 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick, and it has a capacity of 70,585. The stadium ranks as the 20th largest college stadium in the nation. It even has a larger capacity than Chicago Bears home Soldier Field, which has 61,500 seats.

In 1928, horse-drawn carts were used to haul lumber and dirt to the construction site for the new stadium. In a UI publication from 2004, Charlie Smith — a volunteer at the Karro Athletics Hall of Fame and a 1940 Iowa graduate — said construction crews worked 24 hours a day at first, and some mules died in the construction process and are buried in the north end zone.

The facility was built in just seven months at a cost of $497,000. At the opening game in 1929, the Hawkeyes dominated Monmouth College, 46-0. At the time, the stadium could only hold 42,500 spectators.

In 1945, the student council sponsored an unofficial vote on what to name the stadium — then known as Iowa Stadium. The name Kinnick was on the ballot, but Kinnick’s father modestly declined the offer. The stadium was finally renamed in 1972.

Kinnick has been vastly improved in its lifetime, and almost 28,000 seats have been added. Officials completed a two-year, $87 million renovation project in August 2006. Renovations included new scoreboards, new team locker rooms, a new press box with indoor and outdoor club seating, and private suites, and the creation of a larger main entrance in the stadium’s south end.

At February’s state Board of Regents meeting, regents approved a $2 million drainage-improvement and turf-replacement project that will trade natural grass for synthetic turf. The project will be completed by the Hawkeyes’ home-opener, Sept. 5.

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