The 2008 flood has taken a heavy toll on the Hawkeye Marching Band (HMB). But a new outdoor field coupled with indoor turf and support facilities promises to make for better practices and performances.
Recreational Services and Athletics are partners on the $16 million project, slated to open this year as part of the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex. It will provide much-needed space for the band and other programs.
The 2008 flood destroyed the Voxman Music Building, complicating storage and transportation for the band's hundreds of instruments and uniforms. Since then, band members have had to stow their personal instruments in a storage container located at their temporary practice field off Park Road.
Kevin Kastens, marching band director, says as much as they've loved practicing there, conditions at the field are far from ideal. The ground isn't level, and the band has had difficulty navigating holes and ruts in the grass. Rainwater pools in the center of the field and sits for hours. There are no restrooms.
'New facilities will be more representative of the great Big Ten band we are.'
—Quentin Marquez, drum major
The band has been holding indoor rehearsals at Riverside Recital Hall. On game days, instruments must be transferred by rental truck. Uniforms are stored at the University Club on Melrose Avenue. Everything is inconvenient.
At the same time, Recreational Services and Athletics face a shortage of indoor turf space. The units teamed up with the band to fund a new facility, with providing $6 million each. The university contributed $4 million to cover the band's portion of the project.
The facility will include an outdoor natural grass practice field for the band, an indoor turf field, and support areas. The practice field has already been graded and seeded, and construction of the facility is set to begin this spring.
The new field will be equipped with observation towers on both sides. “I will be able to better evaluate the visual elements of our shows,” says Kastens. “We'll have even better pregame and halftime shows.”
"The practice field on Park Road will always have a special place in my heart. I remember being there on my first day of band camp my freshman year fondly," says Quentin Marquez, the band's drum major. "It truly will be the end of an era for the HMB, but the new facilities will be more representative of the great Big Ten band we are."
Harry Ostrander, who is overseeing the project, served as director of Recreational Services for 44 years before his recent retirement. He has facilitated many campus projects, but says this is the first time he's been involved in a “design-build” model that streamlines the process.
“It’s going to be a neat project out there for that particular facility because it’s already well in use and very popular,” says Ostrander.
Kastens believes the new facility will be a tremendous improvement for the marching band. “I appreciate having the option of being outdoors or indoors, and having all of the marching band instruments, uniforms, and equipment in one location," he says.
The substantial completion date for the project is August 2014.