Bleacher Report Home-Court Advantage: Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena

B.Senior Analyst IFebruary 14, 2010

The 15,500-seat, multi-purpose indoor arena at the University of Iowa is an architectural masterpiece. 

Named after a wealthy Midwest industrialist, Roy J. Carver, Carver-Hawkeye Arena (CHA) serves as home to Hawkeye basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and volleyball, in addition to numerous concerts, commencements, sports camps, and various student events. It is one of the 15 largest university-owned facilities in the nation.

Out of 24 varsity sports sponsored by the university, 20 of them call Carver-Hawkeye Arena home.

In 1984, the building won a design award from the American Institute of Architects , due in part to the unobstructed view from each of the theatre seats. The court at Carver is dug 42 rows into the ground and has no center court scoreboard, a very unique feature that fans appreciate.

This masterpiece took awhile to come to fruition, though. And it took a coaching legend to make it happen.

The men's basketball program at Iowa was in need of help when Lute Olson became the head coach in 1974. After a few years, the Hawkeyes were a force in the Big Ten and ticket sales benefited. That's when Olson started to campaign for a new arena.

In 1979, his team earned a share of the Big Ten championship.  In 1980, his team made a run at the national championship.  That's when Olson's campaign became a reality, and the board of regents at Iowa approved a new arena.

Carver-Hawkeye Arena came with a price tag of just over $18 million. It opened the doors in January of 1983 with a wrestling meet between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Oklahoma Sooners, a match Iowa won 35-7. 

The first basketball game at Carver ended with a 61-59 loss to the Michigan State Spartans on Jan. 5, 1983. As the university says, capacity crowds have been the rule, rather than the exception, almost every year since.

Over the years, Carver-Hawkeye Arena has hosted the Big Ten and NCAA wrestling championships and gymnastics championships. It also hosted the 1984 U.S. Olympic wrestling trials and the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team exhibition contest.

The student section at CHA, known as the Hawks Nest , provides UI students the opportunity to unite and organize in support of the Hawkeyes.  Their mission is to become one of the largest, most comprehensive student sections in the nation.

The students will soon have more room for their cause, too.

Workers recently began a $47 million renovation and expansion project on Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a 24-month construction project planned for completion in time for the 2011-12 athletic year.  The men's and women's basketball teams will see the most benefit from the renovation, as will women's volleyball.

Plans include a new practice gym complex for men's and women's basketball and volleyball, a state-of-the-art, 8,000-square-foot strength and conditioning center, a renovation and expansion of the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, and new locker rooms for several teams.

Until construction began, Iowa was one of two Big Ten schools without a basketball practice facility in place.  Unlike other Big Ten institutions, the basketball and volleyball teams have no dedicated practice facilities and must share the main court at CHA as their primary practice facility. Not for much longer, though.

Fans can now follow the progress on the revitalization of the UI's award-winning Carver-Hawkeye Arena LIVE.  The university now provides the most current information on the progress of the project through video, photography and editorial content.

The "House that Lute Built " is a landmark in the state of Iowa and continues to be a place where fans can cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes.