Sneak peek: Take a look inside Coralville's new Xtream Arena
Big Grove Brewery founding partner Matt Swift toasts the new Xtream Arena with Coralville Mayor John Lundell, Josh Schamberger, and Kelly Hayworth. Iowa City Press-Citizen
After everything that's come before in 2020, the opening of Coralville's Xtream Arena feels like an anomaly — while other area projects and programs have suffered setbacks, cancellations and delays, the Xtream Arena has held relatively tight to its schedule.
"It's certainly been a year of challenges — and they continue," Coralville Mayor John Lundell told reporters during a Wednesday event. "This is the project that will keep giving and giving and giving more — into perpetuity."
Roughly three decades of planning came to a head Wednesday as the arena opened its doors to local reporters and camera crews for the first time. The visitors were shown the facility in advance of next week's Sept. 17 ribbon cutting and open house, which will be open to the public. The tour showed off locker rooms, vendors, suites and the courts themselves — everything all but ready for use.
"For us to be able to open this facility, the important thing that we’re focusing on … is (COVID-related) safety measures," Jack Ligon, the general manager for Spectra — the company handling operations at the arena — told reporters Wednesday. "We’re making sure the community feels comfortable as you come out to the facility."
Back in January, Brian Hixenbaugh — the arena's general manager — ambitiously hoped for a point where there would be "no dark days" in the arena's future. While that wasn't ever intended to be the goal for the remainder of 2020, due to COVID-19, the event calendar for the next three-and-a-half months is not as packed as arena operators would have hoped.
Still on the books for this year are a number of youth sporting events and USA Wrestling's 2020 Senior national tournament, which is scheduled for Oct. 9-11.
While the Big Ten Conference postponed fall competitions last month, arena staff still touted the fact the facility would act as the home for the Hawkeye Volleyball team.
Before the end of the year, the Johnson County Historical Society and the Antique Car Museum of Iowa will also finish moving into their new homes in the facility's lower level. Owners of the building they had called home — located at 860 Quarry Road in Coralville — plan to demolish it and replace it with a new development project from Hodge Construction.
A 100-room Staybridge Suites hotel from the Kinseth Hospitality Companies is also forthcoming.
Though the coronavirus pandemic is still casting a shadow over future plans for all such facilities in the area, the arena's staff maintained their desire to figure things out as they continue to look forward to a pandemic-free future.
"COVID will leave one day," Josh Shamburger, president of the Arena Co. board, said in a statement Wednesday, "and when it does, this community will flourish, and the surrounding hotels, retailers and restaurants will follow suit."
You can support local journalism like this by subscribing to the Press-Citizen.