For seven Saturdays each fall, Iowa City becomes the closest thing to Disney World for Iowa fans. Melrose Avenue practically vibrates with game day excitement. Hawkeyes wear 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.
Want to share that Hawkeye magic with the kiddos? 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 2023-2024 football schedule before you buy.
In addition to the official Hawkeye Sports website, you can also buy tickets through 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. For more information, contact the UI Athletic Ticket Office.
The University of Iowa Athletics Department moved to mobile-only ticketing in Fall 2020. Download your tickets in advance and make sure your phone is fully charged. Mobile internet and wifi 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 home games are “Hawkeye Pride” themed, so wear your black and gold best! Pick a color-coded shirt/sweatshirt for themed games (check back for specific dates for each):
- “Gold Out Game”
- “Black and Gold Spirit Game” (Pay attention to your ticket section to create black and gold stripes!)
- “Black Out”
Pay attention to the “Allowed Items” List
Allowable bags include:
- Breast pumps (for nursing mothers; bags subject to search and will be tagged at gate)
- 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 the gate)
- One-gallon clear plastic bag (Ziploc or similar)
You can also bring 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.
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 the 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 $30. 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: Hawkeye Express passenger train service was discontinued in 2021.
One of the best ways to enjoy Hawkeye football with kids is to take part in pregame traditions and performances.
Hawkeye Marching Band
Lot Show: Approximately two hours prior to kickoff, the Hawkeye Drumline performs in front of the Recreation Building, outside the northwest corner of Kinnick Stadium. It is open to everyone.
Rec Show: An hour and fifteen minutes prior to kickoff, the Hawkeye Marching Band performs a pregame concert in the Recreation Building. It is designed as a pregame pep rally and is free and open to the general public.
Two hours prior to kickoff, the team buses arrive on Melrose Avenue. Gather at the south end of Kinnick Stadium to cheer for the Iowa football team and coaching staff as they enter the stadium.
Before the game, check out Kinnick Stadium’s public art. A free-standing 16-foot bronze sculpture of Nile Kinnick is located at the south end of the stadium. Designed by artist Larry Nowlan, the sculpture has taken on status as a good luck symbol. 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,” also by Nowlan, depicts Kinnick’s famous touchdown in a 1939 game against Notre Dame.
At the North End Zone, you’ll find 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 into 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 onto 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 in 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)
Iowa Football Traditions
Kinnick Stadium is home to college football’s favorite tradition “The Iowa Wave.” After the first quarter, fans turn and wave to patients and families watching the Hawkeye football game from the top floor of UI 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 UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital patients)
- The Swarm (Kinnick stadium entrance)
- I-O-W-A chant
- Panchero’s Burrito Lift
It’s important 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.
Twenty concession stands are located throughout the concourse of Kinnick Stadium. Designated concession stands will serve beer, wine, and hard seltzers. All concession stands are cashless; only credit or debit cards will be accepted.
For more Iowa football game day information, visit the University of Iowa Athletic Department’s game day website.