Coralville moves forward with new Iowa Arena project



Construction workers begin work at the site of the Planned Iowa River Landing Stadium in Coralville on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The plans for the arena call for a 6,000 seat stadium capable of hosting a variety of events. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

The new Iowa Arena will bring a whole new host of events to the Iowa City/Coralville area, backers say. The city of Coralville is making progress on the arena, and workers are projected to break ground in December. They are currently clearing the site in the Iowa River Landing and laying down dirt for the road that will run in front of the arena.

Nicky Beaurivage, the associate project coordinator for the project, said she has been working diligently to keep everyone on schedule.

“It’s been quick, we’re kind of in a crunch time right now, getting all the plans finalized and the site ready, but otherwise it’s been great,” she said.

If the project remains on time, the arena is projected to be finished in August 2019.

Clearing the site of the new arena was no easy task. The old truck stop and coal pile that was previously located at the site created some environmental problems that the community had strived to clean since 1998. Workers also demolished the old, abandoned buildings located there. The cleanup was a lot of work, but it needed to be done, Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said.

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“It just wasn’t a very attractive site for people to come into our area,” Hayworth said. “We want to improve the front door to the whole community.”

Demand for an arena such as this has been in the community for a while, said Josh Schamberger, the president of the Iowa City/ Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. He cited surveys back to the 1990s that showed a demand for such a space. Carver-Arena isn’t air conditioned, so having summer events is difficult, and both Carver and Hancher are almost always booked with events, so it would be hard to get anything else in, he noted.

“If this continues to develop, we will have a new asset that will bring a lot of visitors to this community while also adding substantially to the quality of life for the people in this community,” Schamberger said.

There have been talks with the University of Iowa about hosting some sporting events at the Iowa Arena, including volleyball, and also making the arena a learning opportunity for students by offering internships in different areas of operation, management, and planning events.

The arena will benefit community members in more than just entertainment, Schamberger said. The events the arena will host will attract visitors, which benefits everyone.

“The people who come here to go to events and activities will eat at the area restaurants and stay at the local hotels; it’s a good thing for the local economy,” he said.

The Iowa Arena is part of a larger project that focuses on revitalizing the whole area, Hayworth said. There will be, and already are, new retail and residential spaces, along with a second UI medical building and two new hotels.

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