University Of Northern Iowa Receives $1.5M From Elite Casino

Written By Jarrett Huff on February 10, 2023
University of Northern Iowa gets million dollar donation toward stadium from casino in Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa received its second-largest donation toward its renovation of UNI-Dome Stadium. Elite Casino Resorts will send the university $1.5 million to contribute to the project.

Dan Kehl, the CEO of the casino in Iowa, says the donation goes along with the family-owned company’s desire to help the future development of Iowa:

“The UNI-Dome is such an iconic facility at such a great institution; it needs to be preserved. We hope that UNI continues to cultivate future leaders here in Iowa and that the students who attend the University of Northern Iowa stay here in Iowa to help Iowa prosper and grow.”

The goal of the project is to preserve the university facility for generations to come. The largest donation to date was from Marilyn Bohl, a UNI graduate and former IBM senior executive. In October, the alumni donated $5 million toward the project.

UNI-Dome Stadium renovation will take place over three phases

The renovation, which will cost around $50 million, will take place in three phases.

  1. The first phase will include replacing the aging fabric roof, lighting improvements and a new entrance. Additionally, there will be a new concourse, additional bathrooms and an expansion of existing bathrooms and suites. Total cost around $20 million.
  2. Phase two will bring a new surface to the stadium’s indoor track. Also new seating, wider isles, new handrails and improved accessibility seating.
  3. The third and final phase will see more cosmetic updates, like an updated sound system. They will install a new exterior video sign and update the stadium’s visual identity. Phases two and three will cost about $20 million and $10 million respectively.

UNI to honor the Iowa casino’s contribution

David Harris, the UNI Athletics director, was very appreciative of Kehl and Elite Casino Resorts’ donation. They expressed how they understand the importance of the project for the future of UNI Athletics:

“The future of UNI Athletics is closely tied to the future of this campaign, and Dan is the kind of leader with the ability to understand how this contribution helps us create that future. We are indebted to him and our friends at Elite Casino Resorts for their belief in our vision.”

As repayment for that “debt,” the school will dedicate the south deck within UNI-Dome Stadium to Elite Casino Resorts. UNI will name it in the casino’s honor for its contribution to the renovation.

The renovation of UNI-Dome Stadium is a big part of the university’s Our Tomorrow campaign, primarily funded by private support.

About Elite Casino Resorts

Elite Casino Resorts owns and operates three casinos in Iowa, featuring the state’s only locally-owned sportsbook; Elite Sportsbook. The three casinos are:

  1. Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in Riverside
  2. Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in Grand Falls
  3. Rhythm City Casino Resort in Quad Cities

The company recently opened Grand Island Casino Resort‘s temporary casino in Grand Island, Nebraska. Later this year they will also debut Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort in Walker’s Bluff, Illinois.

History of UNI-Dome Stadium

Ground broke on the site of UNI-Dome Stadium in 1974, and the doors opened in 1976. Since then the stadium has been a multi-purpose space for the university. The stadium has featured:

  • Sporting events across multiple sports
  • Concerts for world-class artists like The Rolling Stones
  • A polling place for political events
  • Farm shows and much more

In 1994 the stadium’s fabric roof tore and deflated due to the weight of accumulated snow. A hard-shell roof replaced it in 1998. In 2007, the school added a football locker room, athletics offices, training offices, and a concourse to the north end.

Photo by University of Northern Iowa/PlayIA
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Jarrett Huff

Jarrett Huff is a former sports editor at Northern Star Media from Wonder Lake, Illinois. Friends and family will tell you he's an NBA history nerd with a diehard passion for the Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs.

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