IOWA CITY – With the potential of continued social distancing measures during the 2021 football season, a need for future equipment upgrade and overall increases in operation expenses, the University of Iowa Athletics Department and Iowa Northern Railway Company made the decision now is the right time to end this unique gameday experience.
For over 15 years, the Hawkeye Express passenger train has been a part of the Hawkeye football gameday experience. An average of 3,700 fans boarded the train in Coralville and enjoyed a 10-minute trip to Kinnick Stadium each game during the 2019 football season.
“The Hawkeye Express has been a wonderful part of our Hawkeye football gameday experience,” said Matt Henderson, UI senior associate athletics director. “While it was a difficult decision to make, we all agree it is the right decision. This experience would not have occurred without the Sabin family and their Iowa Northern Railway Company.
“We want to thank our partners at the Iowa Interstate Railway, City of Coralville, and business owners near the loading area of the Hawkeye Express,” said Henderson. “A big thank-you goes out to all of the individuals associated with the gameday operations of the Hawkeye Express.”
The Hawkeye Express is owned by the Iowa Northern Railway Company and runs on the track owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad, which operates between Council Bluffs and Chicago.
“My father, Iowa Northern President Dan Sabin along with Bob Bowlsby (former Iowa athletics director) and Mark Jennings (former Iowa associate athletics director) came up with this unique idea from the past and we have had a lot of fun running this operation since 2004,” said Josh Sabin, Iowa Northern Railway director of administration. “A lot of time and energy goes into this endeavor, but our staff and volunteers have truly enjoyed this experience and seeing the enjoyment of the fans. There is not a good time to close the book on this type of experience, but this decision made sense to both parties. We are grateful for all the fans who made the train part of their gameday, truly!”