Thursday, September 11, 2008 12:03 PM CDT
McLeod suites are Panthers' meow
By EMILY CHRISTENSEN, Courier Staff Writer
CEDAR FALLS --- A generous gift from a local business will give University of Northern Iowa Panther sports fans one more way to enjoy match-ups inside the McLeod Center this winter.
Peters Construction Corp. will begin developing eight suites in the McLeod Center's west side upper concourse this fall. Each suite will contain 12-16 theater-style seats as well as a hospitality area. The project is being funded through a gift from Peters Construction and is expected to be complete in time for the winter sports seasons.
"My wife, Cindy, and I have been huge fans of Panther athletics and we realized this was a way to give back and see UNI athletics continue to grow," said Dave Peters, president of Peters Construction. He is a 1978 graduate of UNI's industrial technology program and also served as an instructor in the early 1980s.
Troy Dannen, UNI athletic director, said the donation is unique because it will generate money that can be funneled back into the athletic department's general operating budget.
"This is the gift that keeps giving, if you will," he said. "We can't balance our budget on the backs of ticket holders. We can't keep raising ticket prices. We need to create and enhance the revenue streams that we haven't yet tapped, which is what these boxes will do."
The university is undertaking a similar, but unrelated project inside the UNI-Dome. Dannen said the upper west press box, which has most recently been used as a club box, is being converted into three hospitality suites that will seat 20 to 25 people. Those suites, funded through athletic dollars and foundation gifts, are expected to be completed before the football season ends.
Once the suites are leased --- Dannen expects companies or individuals will sign five-year contracts for each suite --- the rooms are expected to generate about $150,000 a year in new money. No contracts have been signed, but Dannen said there is already genuine interest in at least six of the McLeod suites.
"Today's venues demand amenities from the video board to the locker room upgrades," he said. "You don't build a building anymore without hospitality suites. This donation allows us to be even more competitive with another level of venues."
The McLeod Center master plans have always left room for suites, but that project was put on hold until an appropriate revenue source could be found.
The men's basketball season will get under way with a pair of exhibition games against Dubuque on Nov. 4 and Wayne State on Nov. 10. The regular season opener is set for Nov. 15 against Denver.
The women's team will host Winona State in an exhibition game Nov. 5, before playing its regular season home opener against Iowa State Nov. 20.
The Panther wrestling team will host its home-opening dual against Iowa Dec. 11 in the McLeod Center.
To purchase winter sports tickets, call UNItix at 273-4849.
Contact Emily Christensen
at (319) 291-1570 or
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