By Dolores Bader

The Girl’s Volleyball Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids prompted me to Google the details about that facility.  Since the recently completed renovation the facility now seats about 6,900 for ball games or 8,600 for concerts.  Even if I were a part of the generation who cares I would not want to be in that building with 8,000 people!  It was my first time in the facility since the restoration and for me it was uncomfortable. I heard enough comments from others to know I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Comments:

“These steps are too narrow.”

“The seats are too steeply stacked.”

“I hope no one falls over those skimpy railings.”

“The Ice Arena was a better place.”

The Center originally opened in 1979 at a tag price of $8 million dollars which included the parking ramp. Plans for the renovation were in play before the floods of 2008 filled the arena. The recent renovation cost over $25 million. It is a multi-use facility and will become home for the Cedar Rapids Titans, members of the Indoor Football League in 2014.  Good for CR! I hope they use and enjoy; as for me I have a totally new appreciation for the UNI Dome and Gallagher Bluedorn Center for the Performing Arts.  Both of these arenas are user friendly and very comfortable.

When you consider the fact that Iowa is one of the eight states that has not doubled it’s population in the last century – in fact it’s the only state that has not grown by 50 percent in that time period – you can see why serious thought needs to be given to public facilities.  In Waterloo we are watching the slow death of the malls and the sprouting of mini-malls everywhere. Change is always the name of the game. I won’t live to see it but I will make a prediction anyway:  the next U.S. Cellular renovation will remove seats, elongate stairways and raise rails to heights that can be touched without bending over.