Hawkeye Express passenger train gameday tradition comes to an end

A football gameday tradition will not return for the 2021 season.
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 9:53 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa Athletics Department announced on Wednesday it is ending the Hawkeye Express passenger train experience.

The university said the decision was made due to potential continued social distancing measures, the need for equipment upgrades and increases in operating expenses.

“The Hawkeye Express has been a wonderful part of our Hawkeye football gameday experience,” Matt Henderson, UI senior associate athletics director, said in a news release. “While it was a difficult decision to make, we all agree it is the right decision. This experience would not have occurred without the Sabin family and their Iowa Northern Railway Company.”

The university said an average of 3,700 fans took the 10-minute train ride from Coralville to Kinnick Stadium each gameday during the 2019 football season.

The Iowa Northern Railway Company owns the Hawkeye Express, and it runs on the track owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad. It operates between Council Bluffs and Chicago.

“My father, Iowa Northern President Dan Sabin along with Bob Bowlsby (former Iowa athletics director) and Mark Jennings (former Iowa associate athletics director) came up with this unique idea from the past and we have had a lot of fun running this operation since 2004,” said Josh Sabin, Iowa Northern Railway director of administration. “A lot of time and energy goes into this endeavor, but our staff and volunteers have truly enjoyed this experience and seeing the enjoyment of the fans. There is not a good time to close the book on this type of experience, but this decision made sense to both parties. We are grateful for all the fans who made the train part of their gameday, truly!”

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