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Barta: Iowa in market for more neutral-site games

[ 3 ] April 24, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa is in the market for more neutral-site regular-season football games, athletic director Gary Barta said Tuesday.

“We don’t have anything close to a contract yet, but we’re always looking,” Barta said during an interview. “We’re wide open to the concept.”

The Hawkeyes open the season Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois at Chicago’s Soldier Field, a game in which both schools will receive at least $1 million from sponsoring SMG Management Group.

“We don’t have another neutral-site game on the schedule yet, but we’re looking to see if there’s another one that will work sometime in the future,” Barta said. “The student-athletes like it, because they get to play in a pro stadium. The fans like it — if it’s the right environment, and the right time of year.”

The Labor Day weekend game against Northern Illinois is during a season that includes seven home games, including the Oct. 20 game against Penn State that the Big Ten Network announced Tuesday would start at 7 p.m. at Kinnick Stadium.

“I think we’ve become accustomed to having a night game,” Barta said. “Our fans like it. We like it, and with Penn State, it seems to have become a tradition.”

This will be the third time in the past four seasons that the Iowa-Penn State game has started at night.

“I’m all for night games — at home,” coach Kirk Ferentz said during a press conference Tuesday.

“I’m all against them on the road, especially in the western time zones.”

Barta said the game against the Nittany Lions most likely would be the Hawkeyes’ only night game this season.

Nebraska has at least three night games on the 2012 schedule — against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan.

“One or two seems to be the right amount for us,” Barta said.

A time hasn’t been set for the Northern Illinois Soldier Field game, although the last time they played there, it was a 2007 day game Iowa won 16-3.

The Hawkeyes have played three other neutral-site regular season games. Iowa lost against Kansas State 27-7 at Arrowhead Stadium in 2000, and played twice in the Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J. — losing 24-14 against North Carolina State in 1992, and losing to Tennessee 23-22 in 1987.

“We certainly would be open to doing it again,” Barta said of playing a non-conference opponent in a professional stadium. “It would be best for us if it fit in a year when we have seven home games, but that’s not an absolute.

“If we could find the right opponent with the right date, we’d be open for discussion.”However, Barta prefers to play a game like that in the Midwest.

“In order for our fans to enjoy it, it would have to be somewhere where they could drive,” Barta said. “Otherwise, it would probably be someone else’s fans that enjoy it more, and I’m not sure that’s a road we want to take.”

Career over: Linebacker Shane DiBona’s football career is over, coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday.

The junior suffered a ruptured Achilles last August, and suffered an undisclosed injury during spring practice.

“He’s going to take a medical, and he’ll stay in school and finish his degree, but will not play football anymore,” Ferentz said. “We’re certainly sorry to make that announcement.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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