The Bubble finally popped. The iconic Iowa football indoor practice facility was deflated for the final time Friday morning.
Built in 1985, The Bubble will be taken apart and re-purposed in some other town.
“At the time when it was put in, it was very appropriate and served its purpose,” Iowa associate athletics director Jane Meyer said “It has gone beyond its lifetime span.”
It took about 35 minutes for The Bubble to completely deflate.
Once it is taken away, construction crews will move in and begin preparing the area for new parking. Meyer said the area would provide 689 parking spaces for the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
Crews will also finish a north-south road that ties Hawkins Drive to Evashevski Drive.
Two other construction projects are already underway in the area. The second phase of the west campus transportation center is being built just north of Kinnick Stadium on Evashevski Drive.
And the first phases of the new indoor football practice facility are being built to the west of the Recreation Center.
Phase 1 cost $19.5 million, includes a new indoor field, and is expected to be finished in August.
The athletic department is going before the Board of Regents this week to get approval for the schematic design, project description and budget for Phase 2.
Phase 2 is expected to cost $36.6 million and provide new offices, meeting rooms, lockers and a 22,500-square-foot strength and conditioning area on the southern end of the new indoor facility.
The portion that faces Kinnick Stadium will use brick masonry and cast stone to match the stadium.
Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2013 and be finished in the summer of 2014.
“We have a more durable facility that will help with aesthetics, but also from an energy perspective,” Meyer said. “We’re not constantly blowing air into this thing.”
According to information supplied to the regents, the plan is to renovate 21,000 square feet of vacated space in the Jacobson Building for use by men’s and women’s gymnastics programs.
The remaining 6,500 square feet of office space “is being evaluated by the athletic department for other uses,” per the regents documents.
Knutson Construction is expected to sell the bubble and the turf inside.
“Rather than take on that liability, we let the contractor decide,” Meyer said.
The bubble, lobbied for by Hayden Fry, served as the indoor practice facility for football from 1985 to 2012.
It deflated twice before – once in 1990 after a blizzard, and once in 1998 during a June windstorm.
“Some people are very sad. It’s been a facility that has been very good to a lot of our sports teams, but primarily football,” Meyer said. “We know its a great move to our future.”
Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football