The Big Ten’s decision this week to go conference-only for all fall sports — effectively canceling the annual Cy-Hawk game — is reverberating throughout Iowa and the country.
And it quickly got the attention of one of Iowa’s best-known politicians.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, voiced his disapproval of the Big Ten’s move amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the Sept. 12 Cy-Hawk game, which was set for Iowa City this year, it also put the brakes on UI’s opening game Sept. 5 against Northern Iowa.
“Very disappointed by the Big Ten making a decision that non conference games can’t be played,” Grassley tweeted. “Don’t they realize the Cy-Hawk game is a lot more interesting than many big ten games?? Especially disappointed Iowa can’t play MY UNIVERSITY uni BIG DISAPPOINTMENT.”
Dan Culhane, the director of Ames Chamber of Commerce said the cancellation will cost Iowa City millions of dollars.
“It’s dreadful news for the Iowa City market because of the impact that game has on our communities. Last year, it was estimated we had 100,000 people in our community for that game, so the economic impact on our restaurants, hotels, bars and a whole host of retail services, it’s a real hard thing to deal with,” Culhane said.
Local area businesses will be impacted as a result of the cancellation, according to Culhane.
“We estimate that there’s a $9 million economic impact to our community (per game),” Culhane said. “The hit businesses will take because as a result of the game not occurring is significant, and even though the game’s not in Ames this year, our restaurants and bars will be impacted as well.”
Northern Iowa could lose a $650,000 payday as a result of the Iowa game’s elimination. The Cy-Hawk game has been played every season since 1977, drawing ESPN’s “College GameDay” to a sold-out Jack Trice Stadium in 2019.
On Friday, ISU’s athletic department did not provide a statement regarding the cancellation of the Cy-Hawk game which was slated to be played in Iowa City this season.
“Both teams played regularly from 1894-1920,” Mike Green, ISU’s sports information director wrote in an email to the Tribune. “There was a 13-year gap until the series was renewed in 1933-34. The series went dormant from 1935-76 and was renewed in 1977. Each year since then (1977-2019) the two teams have met.”
Green said there has never been any cancellation since the 1977 renewal.
“In 2001, the game was postponed due to the events of 9-11,” Green said. “The game has always been played in September since the 1977 renewal except for 2001 when it was postponed until November.”