For seven Saturdays each fall, Iowa City becomes the closest thing to Disney World for Iowa fans — this game day guide will ensure you have the best advice for planning (and enjoying) a trip to Kinnick Stadium and Hawkeye football with kids! Thanks to our friends at the University of Iowa College of Education Belin-Blank Center for making this guide possible!
Walking down Melrose Avenue, the area practically vibrates with game day excitement. We wear our themed shirts, sing songs with strangers, and take pictures with Herky. Sure, there are crowds, traffic, and pricey concessions, but when those dark stadium hallways open up to reveal light, color, and energy, it’s, well . . . magical. Many Iowa City families want to share that Hawkeye magic with their kids. Lucky for us, there are many family-friendly features that keep the fun going before, during, and after the game.
Hawkeye Football With Kids: Game Day Guide
Everyone, regardless of age, needs a ticket. Select games have youth tickets at a reduced price for those 18 years and younger. Check out the 2021-2022 football schedule before you buy.
You can buy tickets through UI Athletic Ticket Office or Stub Hub, the official secondary marketplace of the Iowa Hawkeyes. You will also find buy/sell pages on Facebook and people selling tickets outside of Kinnick Stadium.
If you are using mobile tickets, which the Athletics Department is strongly promoting, be sure to download your tickets in advance and make sure your phone is fully charged. Internet can be spotty on game days. Don’t rely on your signal to access your tickets.
Before You Go to Kinnick Stadium
There are many places to stock up on shirts, hats, and more. On game day, there will be vendors right on Melrose Avenue and outside the stadium. Ahead of game day, you can find Hawkeye gear everywhere from the Hawk Shop to local HyVee grocery stores, to Stuff, Etc. for consignment.
Four of the Iowa home games are “Hawkeye Pride” themed, so wear your black and gold best! Pick a color coded shirt/sweatshirt for the following games:
- September 18 (Kent State) “Gold Game”
- October 9 (Penn State) “Black and Gold Spirit” (Pay attention to your ticket section to create black and gold stripes!)
- November 13 (Minnesota) “Black Out”
Pay attention to the “Allowed Items” List
Allowable bags include:
- Clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bag that does not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″
- Clutch bags that do not exceed 4.5″ x 6.5″ (with or without a handle or strap)
- Diaper bag (items are subject to search and will be tagged at gate)
- One-gallon clear plastic bag (Ziploc or similar)
You can also bring breast pumps, blankets, seat cushions (without back support), food items in a clear storage bag, and one factory-sealed or empty, refillable water bottle per person. Prohibited items include strollers, umbrellas, and large lens cameras.
Check out the Hawkeye Sports game day website for the complete list of allowed and prohibited items. You don’t want any unexpected surprises when it comes to enjoying Hawkeye football with kids.
An easy parking option is to park further away and take a complimentary Cambus shuttle. You can park for free at Hancher, the Hawkeye commuter, and Hall of Fame lots. Alternatively, you can park in downtown Iowa City ramps for $1 per hour (first hour free).
Cambus shuttles run continuously before, during, and after the game. The pre-game shuttle service begins two hours prior to kickoff and is provided for approximately one hour post-game.
If you want to be closer, the University of Iowa has several public parking lots for $25. There are also neighborhood homes that permit lawn parking for a fee. The Iowa Athletics Department has more information about parking on its website.
Note: If you are looking for the Hawkeye Express on in this guide, you won’t find it. The University of Iowa Athletics Department discontinued service.
One of the best ways to enjoy Hawkeye football with kids is to take part in the pregame traditions and performances.
Hawkeye Marching Band Shows
Two hours prior to kickoff, the Hawkeye Drumline performs in the parking lot outside of the Recreation Building near the northwest corner of Kinnick Stadium. After the show, head inside the Recreation Building to snag a seat for the Hawkeye Marching Band pregame concert. Designed as a prep rally, the concert begins an hour and fifteen minutes prior to kickoff. Both concerts are free and open to the general public (no game ticket needed).
Two hours prior to kickoff, gather at the south end of Kinnick Stadium to cheer for our coaches and players as they exit their buses and enter the stadium.
Kinnick Stadium has three beautiful pieces of public art.
Artist Larry Nowlan was commissioned to create two pieces featuring Nile Kinnick. A free-standing 16 foot bronze sculpture is located at the south end of Kinnick Stadium. The sculpture has taken on status as a good luck symbol for players and fans. As you pass, be sure to rub the football helmet that sits beside Kinnick’s left leg. Inside the stadium walkway, the bronze relief “Ironmen” depicts Kinnick’s famous touchdown in a 1939 game against Notre Dame.
At the North End Zone, you’ll find the newest piece of public art, a bronze relief of Duke Slater and the 1921 National Championship team. This commission is by J. Brett Grill. This artwork is especially meaningful, as the field inside historic Kinnick Stadium was named Duke Slater Field in 2021.
Slater was the first Black, All-American athlete at the University of Iowa and the first Black player inducted to the National Football College Hall of Fame. He went on to play in the NFL, earn his law degree from Iowa, and eventually served as a judge.
Inside Kinnick Stadium
Hawkeye Marching Band (HMB)
20 minutes prior to kickoff, the Hawkeye Drumline performs the traditional “The Boom” cadence sequence while the Hawkeye Marching Band runs on to the field. The band then performs several traditional songs, plays the team onto the field, and performs the National Anthem. During the game, the Hawkeye Marching Band continues to play in the stands and performs a new halftime show most games.
Listen for these HMB favorites:
- The Boom
- Iowa Fight Song
- Hey Jude (Arranged by former HMB director Tom Davis and played since 1968)
- Hawkeye Victory Polka (AKA “In Heaven there is No Beer,” played after Hawkeye victories since the 1960s)
Meaningful (and fun!) Iowa Football Traditions
Kinnick Stadium is home to college football’s favorite tradition “The Wave.” After the first quarter, fans turn and wave to patients and families watching the Hawkeye football game from the top floor of University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Other traditions that make games meaningful and fun include:
- School songs
- Nile Kinnick’s 1939 Heisman Speech
- Kid Captains (current and former University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital patients)
- The Swarm (Kinnick stadium entrance)
- I-O-W-A chant
- Panchero’s Burrito Lift
It’s important if you are doing Hawkeye football with kids to know where these key facilities are located inside of Kinnick Stadium.
A lactation room is located near section 133 in the north end zone concourse next to the North First Aid Station.
First Aid Stations
Two first aid stations are located in the north end zone concourse near section 133 and in the south end zone near section 212.
There are 20 concession stands located throughout the stadium. Two updates for the 2021 season: beer, wine, and hard seltzers will be now sold inside Kinnick Stadium and all concession stands will be cashless.
For more Iowa football game day information, visit the University of Iowa Athletic Department’s game day website. You’re sure to find even more information for enjoying Hawkeye football with kids!
About Our Sponsor
The University of Iowa College of Education Belin-Blank Center specializes in bright kids. High-ability students thrive when they can develop their talents and make friends who share their interests and abilities. Our programs do just that. They are a fun way for your child to explore their interests, add challenge to their school day, or even start college early. Whatever you’re looking for, we have something to meet their unique needs. Belin-Blank instructors understand the pace and depth that help bright kids thrive. Plus, we offer topics they may not have access to at school. Students do not have to be in a gifted and talented program to participate. This fall, be sure to check out our Coders’ Lab! Visit belinblank.org to register or check out our other programs!
More Fall Fun in the Iowa City Area
Check out more fall events and fun in the Iowa City area.