We were in Iowa City over the weekend for the 50th birthday celebration of a friend. Like the rest of the state of Iowa, he’s a huge Iowa Hawkeyes football fan, and for his birthday party we had a big tailgate party at their house followed by a march to the nearby stadium for a night game, where the Hawkeye’s played the Pittsburgh Panthers. This was our first experience with Big 10 football, and it was fun and educational. The whole state really turns out for the game – six weeks ago when we began planning our trip it was already too late to reserve a hotel room – there wasn’t a single one to be found! Fortunately we scored a nice Air B&B apartment for our weekend exploits.
The stadium is a first-rate spectacle; the technology on display is more impressive than that deployed by the Chicago Cubs; indeed the stadium holds 75,000 adoring fans – far more than Wrigley. I don’t have much big-sports experience outside of my two trips to Wrigley, so that’s my big game frame of reference. What can I say – Iowa City beats Wrigleyville hands-down for team spirit and total dominance of the game over the life of the city. The fans even arrange what they are going to wear (yellow or black only, of course) based on the sections. You can see the pattern in the grandstands in the photos behind Michael and me (you can also see that I did not get the memo; Michael’s uniform compliance is due only to a wardrobe malfunction necessitating a purchase!).
Prior to the game I had almost forgotten about marching bands – the featured music of the excursion that gives me an excuse to include the event here on Musical Me. The band was fun, the formations complex. In addition to the Star Spangled Banner prior to the game, the half-time show featured a James Brown medley. Of course they kept the fans cheering with the Iowa fight song and other stadium favorites throughout the game. The band is absolutely enormous. One feature of the band that fans seem to enjoy is an unusually large fellow who happens to play the piccolo.
Despite myself, nobody could say the band was the main event – with two seconds left to go the game was tied, and an exceptionally long field goal stood between the Hawkeyes and a win. The first kick, superfluous anyway since it was launched a split second after the Panthers called a timeout, was no good. Under intense pressure, kicker Marshall Koehn stepped up for his second try. And when it really counted, the kid nailed it – a perfect 64 yard field goal! It was nice to be at the game they’ll be talking about for decades.
Thanks for reading.