Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bubble

Friday marks the end of an era in Iowa Athletics. The Indoor Practice Facility, or otherwise known as "The Bubble" will be inflated for the last time. A facility that was imperative for Coach Fry to maintain a successful football program was built in the last 1980s will finally come down and used no more.

This won't be the first time the inflatable structure has come down, but the first time it was done on purpose. The first time the bubble was deflated was the first weekend in December of 1990 when more snow accumulated on top than what the heaters could keep up with. The result was a Big Ten Champion Football team departing for Los Angeles to practice off site for over two weeks in preparation for the upcoming Rose Bowl

The facility fell one other time and that was June 29, 1998, two days after my wife and I got married. She and I were sitting on a runway in Chicago ready to begin our honeymoon out of the country. Our flight was delayed due to a wind storm approaching O'Hare airport, the same storm that sent the bubble down for the second time.
 The Bubble was unique. At the time it was built it was one of the few indoor facilities in college athletics that was a regulation football field. The roof, at times wasn't high enough to punt, but when practicing the punt teams, players ignored if the ball hit the top or not as they played through to the end of the returner's run.

The Bubble wasn't only used for football as all athletic teams had access to it. Batting cages would be built following the football team's last practice before departing for the bowl trip. Baseball and softball traded off depending on class schedules of each team. Golf, track as well as intramurals also split time with the sporting teams. It was the sight for marching band practice during December preparation for the upcoming bowl game. Little kid soccer tournaments, softball clinics and birthday parties all occurred in the facility at least once a year in its time.
But the bubble is showing its age. Cables are beginning to rip, the surface has dirtied and the lights have been hit by a punt one too many times. The sight of it definitely worsens, but it was a welcome sight during December with a foot of snow on the ground.

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