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  • Chuck Utech

Carver-Hawkeye Arena – Iowa Hawkeyes

Photos by Chuck Utech, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Carver-Hawkeye Arena 1 Elliot Dr Iowa City, IA 52242

Year Opened: 1983

Capacity: 15,400


Iowa Basketball at Carver-Hawkeye

Built into the Iowa soil, Carver-Hawkeye Arena (CHA) houses the University of Iowa men’s basketball, women’s basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, and wrestling. Open since 1983, one enters the arena on the ground floor and looks down to the court. The court is encased by seating all the way around, leading up to the large concourse. The arena is currently constructed to hold 15,056. CHA has hosted Big Ten and NCAA Wrestling championships, NCAA Women’s Tournament games, and also the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials.

Food & Beverage 3

Concession stands are abundant. Coca-Cola products are served. Prices range from $5 for a regular to $6.50 for a souvenir. There are no alcoholic beverages served at this time, although other in-state venues have made the change to augment concession sales with beer.

There are many choices when looking at food options and they fit the traditional arena food bill of fare: Hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, and popcorn. Wimmer’s hot dogs ($4.50) and bratwurst ($5.50) are proudly served. Nachos and cheese, are $6; a large Bavarian pretzel is $7. Popcorn is $6.50 for a regular but the family size (souvenir) is $12 and allows for one return fill-up trip.

Easily found items, in addition, include tots, burgers, chicken tenders, and walking tacos. All are in the $6-$9 range. One item that is the biggest hit is the soft serve ice cream. Lines form early. A cone is $4, and a bowl $7. It is a CHA tradition and fans love their pre-game soft serve.

Atmosphere 4

A benefit to bowl seating is the layout can be very convenient. This, and to good views as well proportional fan distribution. The fans cover the entire circle, with a small notch carved out for the band. The student section is noisy and is prompted by the band throughout the game. Fans can sense when the home team needs a boost on offense or defense and dial up the volume. There are moments when CHA can get quite loud. The fans can take that deafening roar to a dead silence when needed during a free throw. It is fun to hear it go from 100 to 0 decibels.

Neighborhood 4

Plenty of pre and post-game opportunities within a short distance from CHA are available to choose from in the Iowa City and Coralville area. Starting with pizza options, Falbo Brothers downtown on Gilbert St. and Wig and Pen are excellent choices. The Fieldhouse and the Mill also are excellent options.

Cedar Rapids is about 20 minutes to the north. It has been rebuilt since devastating floods a decade ago and is worth a visit. The National Czech and Slovak Museum and African American Museum are great cultural experiences. The Five Seasons Center downtown has been renamed the U.S. Cellular Center. This famed building has seen many basketball games in its own right and once housed a game coached by Billy Packer and McGuire in the is.

Riverside, Iowa is about 15 miles to the south. It has a casino and a TopGolf suite. For those wanting a quirky time, visit the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek.

Fans 4

Hawkeye fans do cheer when the team is doing well. Their passion can spill over to disdain when the team is not doing quite as well. They are passionate about the team. Knowledge is abundant as well and they have fun with the opponent fans in a lead or dialall-star80sgood-naturedhappy-go-lucky kind of way. The Iowa student section and the band are entertaining, even if they do not carry the notoriety of other fan bases in the Big Ten or even rival Iowa State. Wins are celebrated with a polka, “In Heaven, there is no beer.”

Access 3

Access to CHA is different than access inside. CHA sits in an area of Iowa City that bottlenecks easily at times of heightened traffic. Although it is not as bad when 70,000 are exiting Kinnick Stadium, the throngs arriving or leaving can cause delays. The staff does yeoman work flowing traffic, but there is just not a large infrastructure in the neighborhood for the large masses. Within CHA, the concourses are wide and it is easy to get around even with the soft serve line. There is a wide assortment of handicapped access seats available. Bathrooms can get busy at peak times.

Return on Investment 4

From parking across the street for $5, to tickets, concessions, programs, and souvenirs, CHA is an excellent bang for the buck. B1G basketball for $20-$35 on average is good stuff. The value is heightened with the bowl seating and excellent views throughout the arena. There is premium seating (Carver Terrace) available near the top of the bowl for the ultimate experience. Prices start at $200 a game for a table.

Extras 5

May sound odd, but a pre-game handicap is the long lines for, must-see soft-serve ice cream. Get in on it early. Whether it is inside or outside, staff and security are plentiful and courteous. Traffic flows even after a largely attended game. The staff is full-on “Iowa Nice” and more than happy to assist with questions or finding a seat.

Iowa traditional sports have had a fair amount of success over the years. There are banners, displays, and mentions of the accomplishments throughout. On-court activities for fans such as trying to get a hole-in-one, t-shirt toss, or shooting a half-court shot are fun fillers.

The Iowa yearbook comes with a Poster front/Roster back. In addition, there are booths set up with free posters and schedules while supplies last for various athletic activities.

Final Thoughts

A trip to Carver-Hawkeye Arena is an enjoyable experience. Reasonable pricing, fun for, and passionate fans make this a great spot to see a game. The Iowa City area is excellent with plenty of outside activities available for those looking for a full weekend.

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