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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Bobby Hansen caught Steve Carfino’s pass, squared up in front of the Iowa bench and released a 3-pointer in the game’s final seconds. Swish. Game winner.

“That’s kind of what I thought,” Hansen recalled, 40 years later. “But upon further review…”

Official Ed Hightower ruled that Carfino had stepped out-of-bounds before passing the ball, Hansen’s buzzer beater was wiped out and No. 8 Iowa lost to Michigan State, 61-59, in the first basketball game ever played at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“It was deflating because you want to win that first game in the new building,” Hansen said. “It was an unfortunate way to begin. But that’s sports, right?”

Four decades after that Jan. 5, 1983 opener, Carver-Hawkeye Arena will celebrate its 40th birthday when Iowa hosts Indiana on Thursday.

Iowa’s wrestling team actually christened the new building with a 35-7 dual-meet victory over Oklahoma two days earlier. The arena was supposed to be open in time to host the first round of the Amana-Hawkeye Classic on Dec. 3. But construction delays forced the basketball team to play its first four games of the 1982-83 season in Iowa Fieldhouse.

The arena has also been home to women’s basketball, men’s and women’s gymnastics and volleyball over the last four decades.

It was Lute Olson, then the Iowa basketball coach, who banged the drum in the late 1970s for a new arena to replace the antiquated Iowa Fieldhouse. That’s why Carver-Hawkeye was called “The House That Lute Built” when it opened.

The fieldhouse was a pretty special place,” Hansen said. “Steve Krafcisin always talked about walking in there, smelling the popcorn burning and knowing it was time to play.”

Olson knew Iowa Fieldhouse was a great home-court advantage. He also knew the bells and whistles of a new facility outweighed the tradition (and burning popcorn) of a building that had been the home of Iowa basketball since 1926. As it turned out, Olson’s timing couldn’t have been any better.

Olson was building a winner, which gave him some leverage. Being a frontrunner for the job at Southern California late in the 1978-79 season didn’t hurt, either. March 1, 1979 became a significant day in the birth of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Olson announced he had withdrawn his name from consideration at USC after receiving a six-year extension on his contract, a raise from his $37,500 salary and a promise that a new arena would be built.

“A new arena is for certain,” Olson said. “It’s no longer in just the talking stage. I’ll be joining other people from the university when the season is completed to inspect arenas around the country in preparation for the construction of ours.”

That night, when Olson took the floor for a game with Michigan, the Iowa Fieldhouse sellout crowd of 13,365 greeted him with chants of “Lute, Lute, Lute.” The Hawkeyes then laid an egg, falling behind by a 16-2 score and losing to Johnny Orr’s Michigan team, 61-53.

“There may be some that don’t want me back now,” Olson said.

The loss dropped the Hawkeyes out of a share of the Big Ten lead, but they would go on to share a piece of the title with Michigan State and Purdue.

Olson coached the Hawkeyes to the 1980 Final Four a season later, and was named National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press . On July 15 of that year, groundbreaking for the $17.6 million arena took place on a day when the temperature reached triple digits.

A national campaign was kicked off to raise $8.5 million for the project, which carried a $25.3 million price tag overall because some funds were earmarked for renovation of the fieldhouse for physical education and student recreation.

Hawkeye Sports Arena became Carver-Hawkeye Arena on July 13, 1981, when the Board of Regents approved the new name to honor the late Muscatine industrialist Roy J. Carver. He had donated the largest gift, $2 million, to the project.

The arena was expected to open in the fall of 1982, but construction delays kept pushing that date back.

“Looking back, I don’t think I even thought I was going to play in it, because it kept taking longer and longer,” said Hansen, a senior in 1982-83.

In June of 1982, Iowa officials said they were confident the arena would be completed in time for the Amana-Hawkeye Classic the first weekend of December. But they also issued two sets of basketball tickets as a precaution. It turned out to be a sage move.

On the eve of the Jan. 5 opener against Michigan State, Olson wondered out loud if the home-court advantage of the Iowa Fieldhouse would carry over to the new facility. And there were concerns with the parking, which had been an issue for the crowd of 8,000 that had attended the wrestling meet with Oklahoma two days before.

“When we first practiced there it wasn’t done,” Hansen said. “The new carpet wasn’t down in the locker room, and there were a few other things. It was all so new, but very cool. You’d look around and think, “State of the art and brand new. It took awhile to get a home-court advantage, but I remember some games at the end of that year where it really got rocking.”

Four decades later, the building has seen plenty of big moments. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have given speeches there. Big music names like Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2 have performed there. But Hawkeye sports have dominated the headlines.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams and the wrestlers have all competed there as the nation’s No. 1 team.

Carver-Hawkeye has hosted the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1984 and 2012, and the 2018 Wrestling World Cup. The 1984 U.S. Olympic men’s and women’s basketball teams played exhibition games there, with star power like Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, Bill Walton, Cheryl Miller, Lynette Woodard, Nancy Lieberman and Carol Blazejowski among those on display.

The building has also hosted the NCAA Wrestling Championships in 1995 and 2001, and 14 different NCAA women’s basketball tournaments have included games there. The biggest was the 1993 Mideast Regional semifinals and final, when Iowa reached the Final Four under Coach C. Vivian Stringer.

A total of 16 Big Ten Championships in wrestling and women’s and men’s gymnastics have been contested in the building.

There was that unforgettable Feb. 3, 1985 women’s basketball game between Iowa and Ohio State, when a crowd of 22,157 set history. It was the largest crowd to watch an NCAA women’s game ever, erasing the previous mark of 12,336 for a 1977 doubleheader at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Official paid attendance that day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena was 14,821, but a turnstile count was much higher. Some fans sat in the aisles, others stood on the concourse.

The state fire marshal sent a letter of reprimand to Iowa Women’s Athletic Director Christine Grant, who proudly framed it and hung it on the wall of her office.

The wrestlers beat Iowa State in 2018 in front of a record crowd of 15,955.

In a four-year window (2019-2022), women’s basketball player Megan Gustafson, men’s basketball player Luka Garza and wrestler Spencer Lee were honored as the best in their sport. All called Carver-Hawkeye Arena home.

The Iowa wrestling team has won 17 NCAA titles since the arena opened, with 38 different wrestlers winning at least one NCAA individual title. There have also been 23 Big Ten title teams, 118 individual Big Ten champs and 14 Big Ten wrestlers of the year, with Mark Ironside winning it three times and Royce Alger and Lee twice.

Seven women’s basketball players have been consensus all-Americans while competing at Carver-Hawkeye, and four of the last five Big Ten Players of the Year have been Iowa players - Gustafson (twice), Kathleen Doyle and Caitlin Clark. Gustafson and Clark were consensus first-team all-Americans. The men’s basketball team has had a consensus first-team all-American three straight seasons in Garza (twice) and Keegan Murray.

Hansen, who had a nine-year NBA career, is now in his 31st season as the analyst on Iowa basketball broadcasts.

“Looking back, I can’t believe time flies like that,” Hansen said.

His most memorable game in Carver-Hawkeye wasn’t that opener against Michigan State, when his hero status was erased by a Hightower whistle. It was Iowa’s 88-80 upset of No. 5 Michigan on Jan. 31, 1993. That was Iowa’s first home game since the death of standout forward Chris Street in an automobile accident 12 days earlier.

“The emotion that was in that building,” Hansen recalled. “When I take a lap around Carver-Hawkeye, that’s the one I remember.”