Looking Back At 40 Years Of ‘The House That Lute Built’
Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City is celebrating a birthday this week. It's the big 4-0 for the home of the Hawkeyes. While there are many people who worked hard to get the facility built, many point to one person in particular. Former Iowa basketball coach Lute Olson. There is a reason the arena is nicknamed 'The House that Lute built.'
January 5th, 1983 was the first basketball game played at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes lost 61-59 to Michigan State, according to Sports Illustrated. Fortunately, the new building had been christened with a win by the Iowa wrestlers two days earlier with a 35-7 dual win over Oklahoma. Before Carver, the Fieldhouse in Iowa City had been the home of the Hawks for four decades. And while the old building provided a unique homecourt advantage for Iowa, by the 1970's it became clear a new facility was needed. Enter Iowa basketball coach Lute Olson.
As SI points out, Olson was building a winning program at Iowa which gave him some powerful leverage. He was a finalist for the USC coaching job in 1979. But on March first of that same year, Olson withdrew his name, and it was announced that Olson had signed a new six-year deal with Iowa, that included the promise of a new arena to be built. SI reports that Olson would lead Iowa to a share of the Big Ten title that year, and in 1980 took the Hawkeyes to the Final Four. On July 15th of that year, ground broke on Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
In 1981, Hawkeye Sports Arena officially became Carver-Hawkeye Arena, named for the late Roy J. Carver who had donated $2 million towards the project, according to SI. The building officially saw its first basketball game on January 5th, 1983. 40 years later the building will celebrate on Thursday night as Iowa hosts Indiana in Big Ten play. 40 years of great memories and cheers of 'Let's Go Hawks!' Here's to 40 more!