Carver-Hawkeye Arena has been home for the Iowa basketball team since 1983 but it’s limited access points and student section location make it undesirable.
The Iowa basketball team could really benefit from building a brand new stadium. The current configuration consists of all fans having to enter from the ground floor and travel down as many as 42 rows to reach their seats. And likewise, when the game is over, it’s right back up those stairs.
That does not even consider how terrible of a location the student section is in. As is, students occupy all rows in Sections E-K of the map below courtesy of HawkeyeSports.
Look at any Big Ten school with a solid basketball program and their students are right on top of the court. The Breslin Center is home of the Michigan State Spartans and the students occupy the first 10 rows around the entire lower bowl.
Regular fans only have to go up and down a maximum of 18 rows to reach the main concourse. As far the second level, there are access points in every zone with a maximum of 19 rows for patrons to climb. All very doable. The second level also creates a better game experience for the fans because everyone can be closer to the court.
With Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the rows are set up so that it’s just one continuous level and can make fans or even students sitting near the top feeling distant from the action. It also is difficult to consistently produce crowd noise for opponents with fans being that far away and the students all behind one basket. In one of the two halves of the game, the opponent is always down at the other end of the basket.
I am not saying that Iowa should have their students occupy the first ten rows like Michigan State or Duke but something similar to what the University of Michigan does with the Chrisler Center would suffice. The Wolverines have their students occupy the first 10 rows along the entire west side and the first 20 rows of the first section in the northwest corner. It engulfs both the home and visitor’s bench.
Similar to Michigan State, the Crisler Center has it setup so that the lower bowl patrons only need to climb a maximum of approximately 15 rows if sitting behind the students and 25 rows if in regular seats before accessing the concourse.
Now yes, I do realize that the Iowa basketball team has had trouble with students attending the games and a revised configuration could potentially be a glaring hole when on television, but my belief is that they are so poorly attended on a regular basis due to the existing location of the student section. As a student, nobody wants to stand for the entire game 30 rows up from the court.
In 2016, Gary Barta and the Athletic Department spent $7 million on a new video board, lighting, and sound system but did nothing to improve the seating. If Iowa wanted to keep Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the least they could do is have students at both ends similar to Purdue’s Mackey Arena.
It would achieve two things for the Iowa basketball fans: being closer to the court and having noise at both ends. For now though, this all remains a dream.