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UNI Dome renovation project is biggest ever for UNI Athletic Department at $50,000,000

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL)

At $250,000,000, 'Our Tomorrow, The Campaign For UNI' is the largest capital campaign in the history of the University of Northern Iowa.

That ambitious campaign includes a $50,000,000 renovation of the 46-year old UNI Dome, which opened in 1976,

The UNI Dome is a multi-purpose facility, which welcomes some 500,000 visitors every year for a variety of events, ranging from the high school football playoffs to farm, vacation and boat shows.

It's estimated that 200,000 of those visitors come from outside Black Hawk County, with an economic impact of $17,000,000 in annual revenue for the Cedar Valley.

“This is one of those transformational opportunities that we know people will respond to, says UNI Athletic Director, David Harris, talking about the Dome renovation project for The Steele Report.

Harris encourages everyone to go to the website: unidomerenovation.com to see all of the UNI Dome renovation plans.

Harris says, “The Dome is a fantastic facility, and we're going to make it even better.” The UNI Dome will turn 50 in 2026, and Harris says it's an investment in UNI for the next 50 years.

The project will include a variety of much-needed renovations, including a new west side entrance, replacement of the Dome's fabric roof, new sound system, resurfaced indoor track, expanded concourse, new restrooms, enhanced and redesigned suites, new graphics and all new purple seats, and special handrails to help patrons navigates the UNI Dome steps. In the largest project in the history of the UNI Athletic Department.

Thanks to a $5-million lead gift from 1962 UNI graduate, Marilyn Bohl, the UNI Dome renovation project is off to a nice jump start.

Bohl resides in Long Beach, California. She enjoyed a very successful career in computer technology, spending some 25 years with IBM, where Marilyn was Senior Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer.

After leaving IBM, Marilyn moved a new career, authoring nine college level computer technology textbooks.

Before completing her mathematics degree in 1962 at the Iowa State Teachers College, Marilyn earned her elementary education credential from Luther College in Decorah, where she played basketball for the Norse.

Marilyn and her twin sister, Arlene, both played basketball at Luther College. Luther honored Marilyn in 2001 with its Luther Distinguished Service Award.

Marilyn Bohl has been a generous philanthropist for many years. For example, she donated two million dollars to California State University at Long Beach to renovate Blair Field. The field is now called Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.

When talking about her investment, for a UNI Alumni Association promotional video, Marilyn says, "I am absolutely convinced that what I have been able to achieve today is based on the foundation built at the University of Northern Iowa."

As far as the UNI Dome renovation, Marilyn says, "The significance to the University of Northern Iowa and to the area cannot be overstated. I'd have a hard time identifying a project that has the potential for greater impact, and you know you are helping the students of today, but also the students of 10, 20, 30 years from now."

She adds, "I'm just really, really thankful that I get an opportunity to participate in this project, and I hope you decide to also."

UNI received Marilyn's commitment during what is called the 'quiet phase' of the fundraising campaign. That's a time period when potential donors are identified behind the scenes and asked about their potential interest in being involved as a donor. 

David Harris says, "We start the process of fundraising before we make it known to the public that the project is actually happening."  Harris says for many months they were actively and 'quietly' meeting with potential 'Lead' donors all during that period of time, long before the public announcement.

The UNI Dome right now has three suites, with each suite accommodating about 40 fans. The project will turn those three suites into 10, each holding up to 20 fans.

It's a three-phase effort, with $20,000,000 needed to complete the first phase, which is in progress right now.

David Harris stopped by the KWWL-TV studios this week to talk about the massive project for this week's edition of The Steele Report