The Best Stadium Amenity, Ever


Iowa football is doing a very cool thing. I bet you’ve seen it. Their home field now has a sparkling new children’s hospital that looms right over the rim of Kinnick Stadium. The building is the tallest habitable structure in Iowa City, and cost $380 million to build.

Hawkeye fans have been scratching together money for it for years, with “Touchdowns for Kids” campaign. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz – who would have long ago bolted for the NFL, and since been long fired – kicked in a cool $1 million of his own money for the hospital.

Now, during every game, there’s a moment where the fans all turn in unison and wave at the kids who gaze down from the top floors. Kids with tubes stuck in their bodies, kids with shaved heads, kids who haven’t been out of the hospital in over a year.

It’s a small thing. A token thing. But an incredible thing. It’s brilliant. And it got me to thinking. “Wouldn’t it be nice if EVERY new stadium we built these days, had a kids hospital attached to it?”

Its already a crime that cities build money-making palaces for billionaire owners, only to watch them launch their franchise values into the stratosphere. And since forcing owners to pay for their own is difficult (but sometimes possible, as it largely was with the coming palace in Los Angeles for the Rams and Chargers), how about this: tell sports owners: “We’ll build a stadium, but YOU need to build the hospital.”

Imagine every new stadium having a therapeutic connection to recovery rooms full of kids on the brink of death, and families torn by grief and financial worry. Sports owners like to play the “this new stadium, and my wonderful team, will have a real benefit to our beloved city” card. If we made ’em all build a hospital on top of it, then that old canard would actually be true.

Good on you, Iowa Hawkeyes.


So I’m driving from the golf range with my daughter and nephew today. Because this is what dads do, I said we needed to stop at Wawa for a celebratory snack. After checking out, my nephew Luke sees the blue M&M’s bag in my hand. “What’s that flavor,” he asks? I reply: “Caramel. Oh, you haven’t had them? GAMECHANGER!”

I wish I had more discipline to resist, but I just don’t. They are THAT good. A perfect blend of thick candy shell, thin layer of caramel, and a chocolate core.

This spawned a back and forth with the kids, about OTHER delicious food items, life things, that are ….. GAMECHANGERS. The definition of what qualifies, in of itself, debatable. Which makes it fun. Whatever it is you claim, it’s gotta be a NEW twist on a genre or invention, and it has to threaten to become the new most popular iteration of that thing.

I think I’m going to try to make this a once-a-week segment on my radio show. Feel free to play at home. Or send me your nominations.

Backyard Pools, The American Dream

My brother-in-law Todd and his wife Yvonne (my wife’s sister) are thinking about building a pool in their backyard. I am in full support. Why wouldn’t I be!? Not my money! Not my (potential) headache! I’ll bring my swim trunks next time we visit!

But here’s the thing that still floors me about the “pool biz.” The number of horror stories of pool-building gone wrong, is seemingly endless. My in-laws say there are about 5 or 6 neighbors who have had bad experiences. Including one neighbor whose builder just QUIT halfway through the job. It led to a near mental breakdown of the husband, and almost a divorce. I have a neighbor who had a pool build that spanned an absurd 14 months, and legal action (both ways!) And what is crazy, is that my neighbor is an accomplished civil engineer, who is not cheap, and extremely detail oriented and thorough in everything he does!

And yet, because pools involve so many different variables, so many different trades required to construct, and now so many bells and whistles… it just seems like the chances for things to go bad remains exceedingly high.

I wish them luck. I just keep thinking of Brian Nelson’s timeless words of wisdom to me, as a (remorseful) pool owner himself. He said…

“You can’t always not be building a pool.”

Don’t read and re-read that one too many times. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s on purpose. But it really just means that once you put a pool in your backyard, it’s over. The dream is accomplished. But the dream is also dead. The dream of almost every suburban homeowner, is that of Clark Griswold gazing through a window in the winter, thinking of glorious summer days splashing happily just steps from your back door.

In other words, the warm and fuzzy feeling of DREAMING about a pool, and the excitement of BUILDING a pool, essentially die the moment you turn off the hose.

I don’t have a pool. I have plenty of space. I might be able to find the money. But I doubt I’ll ever get one. I think the moment has passed. And that’s not a bad thing.

For everyone who DOES have a pool, and built it without any undue headaches…. I salute you. And when can I come over?



  1. Years ago, the famed UW Marching Band “5th Quarter” show involved the band lining up after the Badger game and marching up University Ave in Madison to the UW Children’s Hospital and playing a few numbers for the kids from outside. There were always a couple hundred fans that followed the informal “parade”. The kids filled every window on that side of the building.

  2. Czabe, flavored sunflower seeds have killed the classic. A guy on my ball team bought some originals, and they sat on the bench every game, unopened, all summer.

  3. I love in Houston bought the house with the pool only two years old in 2015 We use it 300 days a year and so far it is not too bad to take care of.

    My neighbor just built one for ~200K and it is badass. Always buy a pool second hand!

  4. 1st of all. F**king awesome. Way to go Univ of Iowa!

    Second of all, I’d love to see a federal law against building stadiums for the billionaire pro sports owners. Right now if it were enacted at city or state level, they would just go somewhere it isn’t illegal. It’d have to be an all or nothing thing. Sad thing is I think too many cities still believe in the “will bring business and money to the city” campaign of the NFL, Olympics, etc. Think most studies have shown that simply not to be true. Getting down to the root of it, more likely it is just an ego thing for the current Mayor, City Council, , etc.

    Ont he pool, I thought that the exact quote was “You can’t always not build a pool.”

    Of course, I could be wrong, won’t be the first. Or the last.


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