CEDAR FALLS – Kevin Hemmen remembers the early days of the state-of-the-art domed facility that would eventually become synonymous with the University of Northern Iowa.
Hemmen, who would graduate from UNI’s accounting program in 1979, saw the Harlem Globetrotters and the rock band Chicago perform at the brand new UNI-Dome. Even then it was clear just how unique it was to have a facility like the UNI-Dome in the Cedar Valley.
Nearly 50 years later, Kevin and his wife Deb – both longtime Dike, Iowa residents – have pledged $750,000 to ensure the UNI-Dome remains a vibrant facility for the community for the next 50 years. Their gift is a part of the university’s Our Tomorrow capital campaign.
“Our Tomorrow is about preserving the past, planning for the future and making what’s already great even better,” Kevin said. “Legacy, giving back, is something our family has felt very strongly about, and we want our legacy to be about improving the community, not only for our grandchildren but for the future of the greater Cedar Valley and of course for UNI where it all began for us.”
“We are very grateful to Kevin and Deb for their continued generosity in support of Panther athletics,” said UNI Athletics Director David Harris. “Their gift to the UNI-Dome renovation project helps us ensure the future of this iconic facility for the university and the community for years to come. We greatly appreciate their belief in the vision for the Dome and the willingness to make a significant contribution to this important project. They clearly share our goal of creating an experience for our fans, supporters and visitors that will serve this community for another half century,” Harris said.
Kevin Hemmen spent more than three decades working for, and becoming president of Waterloo Warehousing & Service, Inc., a logistics company serving a broad range of industries both domestically and internationally. He counts his experiences in the Dome, such as UNI Basketball’s stunning defeat of the University of Iowa before a record 22,000-plus fans, among his fondest UNI memories.
“It’s exciting to see the renovation plans and to know that the UNI administration is looking towards the future, to not only preserve the facility, but to make major improvements for generations ahead,” Kevin commented. “With a collective effort by the UNI community to support this campaign, we believe there could be expanded opportunities for events in the Dome, along with keeping UNI competitive with universities around the country in terms of recruitment.”
In recognition of Kevin and Deb’s gift, a premier space in the UNI-Dome will be named in the Hemmen family’s honor.
The Hemmens’ investment supports a three-phased $50 million renovation of the UNI-Dome. Included in the first phase of renovations is replacing the UNI-Dome’s nearly 25-year-old fabric roof, reconstructing the west entrance and concourse, creating new and increased restrooms, and providing new and expanded suites.
Phase two of the project will include bowl upgrades and structural improvements along with resurfacing the indoor track. Among the bowl improvements included are new seating, wider aisles, handrails and greater ADA seating. The final phase of the project will include updates to the UNI-Dome sound system, marquee signage and visual identity.
Phase one is estimated at $20 million with over half of the goal already raised. Phase two is also estimated at $20 million while phase three is estimated at $10 million. The UNI-Dome renovation is a key initiative of the university’s Our Tomorrow comprehensive campaign and will be funded primarily with private support. Multiple naming opportunities are available and can be accessed through the UNI-Dome renovation website, unidomerenovation.com.
Donations to the project are tax-deductible through the UNI Foundation and can be made as a multi-year pledge.