UI requests $5.8 million for renovation project to west campus recreation fields

The renovations would address the only outdoor recreation fields available on campus that is not being fully utilized.


Matt Sindt

Board of Regents president Michael Richard and president pro tem Sherry Bates listen at the Iowa Board of Regents meeting hosted at the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.

The University of Iowa is seeking approval from the state Board of Regents for $5.8 million renovations to on-campus west recreation fields.

The on-campus west recreation fields, located at 2960 Hawkeye Park Road, Iowa City, IA, includes 12 natural grass fields which can be used for flag football, ultimate frisbee, soccer, lacrosse along with four sand volleyball courts.

Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations at the UI, presented the request to the board at its Nov. 9 meeting. 

“It’s really an investment not only for our students but in care on that site,” he said. “The [west recreation fields] are a very heavily used part of the campus for recreation and intramural sports.”

The renovations would include building six synthetic turf fields, replacing the perimeter fencing, regrading the entire site and installing new storm drainage systems, according to the report presented to the property and facilities committee. 

“This facility provides the only outdoor recreation fields available on campus and has not been fully utilized for over 20 years,” the report stated. 

The UI highlighted specific renovations in the report, including:

  • Clearing and grubbing of existing overgrown vegetation, sod restoration, erosion control, shade tree replacements and sidewalks
  • Demolition and removal of basketball courts, sand volleyball court improvements and regrading of the fields
  • Recreation fields drainage improvements
  • Foot wash stations and water connections
  • Information technology upgrade, sound system upgrades; bicycle rack; seed

The physical deficiencies of the west recreation fields negatively impact participation in outdoor recreation at the UI, Lehnertz said. The damage causes events and activities to be rescheduled or canceled on a regular basis.

“It’s been a problem for years,” Lehnertz said. “We spend roughly $750,000 to $1 million a year taking care of that part of the campus because of those challenges.”

Significant rainfall in previous years have forced entire seasons to be canceled for some sports, he said. The wet areas, recurring low points, and compacted soils also present safety issues.

“We are trying to activate and connect students all over campus…nearly all of our peer and competitive universities using artificial turf on these exterior fields,” he said. 

The timeline for the project initially began in June 2022 with approval from the regents to proceed with project plans and design professional selection and indefinite services agreement for lab design. A $403,250 incorporated agreement for design development was also made official in June 2022.

Additional costs for the project include:

  • $766,238 for planning, design and management
  • $4,584,022 for construction
  • $449,740 for contingency

Sources of funds for the renovation will be through the recreation services renewal and improvements fund. Upon approval, construction would begin in the spring of 2023 and end in the fall of 2023. 

The requests will go to the regents for approval at its meeting on Thursday in Council Bluffs, Iowa.