Back in 2002, when the Hawk's Nest was still somewhat new, my roommates had the worst seats in Carver Hawkeye Arena: The top row of Section H. The seats looked directly down the court, so that there was no depth perception. Shots at the closest end were obscured by the bottom support of the backboard. Not that any of that mattered: There was a tiny scoreboard hanging over Section H that completely blocked the view of just about anything. They would bring binoculars so they could look really closely at that scoreboard and the rare corner three. While my roommates weren't exactly the biggest sports fans in the world, I'm pretty sure the experience of sitting in those seats for an entire season made them hate basketball forever.
Now, what if I told you that you could have the same experience as them, from the same end zone nosebleeds (at the opposite side) only with FREE ICE CREAM and PAY BEER at an EXORBITANT PRICE?!?!?!? Then do I have the seating option for you!
Introducing the Carver Terrace - An exciting new premium seating opportunity in Carver-Hawkeye Arena featuring tables of 4 located just off the concourse at the north end of the arena https://t.co/orydzoIRvH #FightForIowa pic.twitter.com/ziOMgbcHZm
— National I-Club (@jointheiclub) September 25, 2018
From the photos and description, it looks like Iowa took out about six rows at the top of three sections in the opposite end zone from the Hawk's Nest and put in some tables and chairs. Those using the "Carver Terrace" get cash bar deliveries and free basic concessions, including "Famous Carver Ice Cream without the wait in line"! That line is usually really long! That's worth the price by itself! Speaking of which, what is the price?
Four season tickets cost $6500.
You read that right.
It's $1650 per ticket, two ticket minimum. That's $92 per game, season ticket only. To put it in perspective, the face price on a season ticket is $365; even with the highest non-premium seat contribution, a season ticket at Row 6 mid-court costs $965. So, yeah, that's a lot of ice cream.
It's obvious from the last few Kinnick Stadium renovations that the department sees the future in premium suites. After all, each of the last three renovations actually decreased the seating capacity of the stadium. If that shift is going to come to Iowa basketball, the athletic department is basically stuck. After thirty years, Carver Hawkeye Arena is still well-kept and functional (even if the seating policy guarantees that going to a game there is borderline depressing). The sound and visual system is now updated. There's no real need for a new basketball arena, and with construction projects across the university frozen and UI Athletics operating under a gray cloud, the political capital necessary to scrap a perfectly-usable arena for something shiny and new probably isn't there. Carver Hawkeye wasn't built with premium suites, and it wasn't built for expansion, and Iowa would need one or the other to make its goal. Barta and his crew are trapped, and so you get things like a $1625 nosebleed with free ice cream.
Making these season tickets with concession service telegraphs that the target audience is corporate hospitality, but it begs the question: Who is actually paying for this? Who is willing to pay the second-highest ticket price in the whole building for one of the worst seats in the place, just to get what amounts to table service? Well, table service people, for one, but the biggest benefit comes from the last item on the list: 10 priority points per seat, as many as you would get for a $1000 annual contribution to the I-Club. That's enough to get a significant upgrade on your football seat location, and for those who care about that sort of thing, it might be worth eating bad basketball seats -- and a bunch of free ice cream -- to get it.
On first glance, this doesn't make much sense. Even after thinking about it for a while, it doesn't make much sense for most people. But there is a method to this madness. To see it, you might need your binoculars.