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Bubble Deflated at the University of Iowa

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IOWA CITY, Iowa The Bubble played out like a Hollywood diva Friday morning. She really milked her death scene.

"The Bubble," also known as Iowa's 27-year-old indoor football practice facility, had the air let out of it. A gusty north wind kept the heavy plastic tarp heaving for 33 minutes after the doors were opened and the generators were turned off.

In the distance, Iowa's new Indoor Athletics Practice and Recreation Facility, still under construction, dwarfed the football offices and the gasping bubble.

Aesthetically, it's a net gain for the UI.

"Are you saying you didn't like the Bubble?" Jane Meyer, UI senior associate athletics director, said with a laugh.

The Bubble certainly filled a need back in 1985, when it was built for $2.7 million. It collapsed twice, once because of a heavy snowstorm in 1990 and again after fierce winds in 1998.

"The only other thing I remember, it's kind of related to the Bubble, is getting ready for the Peach Bowl in '82," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We had a temporary shelter down on the Kinnick field that was thick plastic, 24 structure with an industrial heater in there.

"Half the guys would be on the field practicing, the other guys went in there to warm up. It was the lesser of two evils: breathe in the fumes or be on the field and freeze."

The Hawkeyes' new facility, which has a $19.5 million price tag, is scheduled to be operational in August. Meyer said the UI is planning on the parking spots lost to the project to be available for home games, but there is a contingency plan if they're not.

Another part of the project is a sidewalk that will lead to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, making the walk from parking south of the arena easier.

Phase II, the UI Football Operations Facility, goes before the Board of Regents for approval next Wednesday and Thursday. The budgeted proposal is $36.6 million for phase II.

The building would be immediately adjacent to and south of the new Indoor Athletics Practice and Recreation Facility. The Football Operations Facility would include spaces for strength/conditioning, squad meetings, video editing, lockers for players and coaches, coach's offices and reception space.

No general university dollars or increased student fees would be used as a revenue source. Construction is scheduled to start in spring 2013, with completion in summer 2014.

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