UNI-Dome renovation receives $250,000 boost from Cedar Rapids couple

UNI-Dome renovation donors Jim and Bonnie Raasch in the UNI-Dome

CEDAR FALLS, IOWA --- If there's Panther football in the UNI-Dome, it's safe to say you will find Jim and Bonnie Raasch there. 

Across nearly 50 years, the superfan couple can count their missed home games on just one hand.

"We have had season tickets since the Dome opened," said Jim. "Seeing the players run in when the garage door opens is still as thrilling today as it was in 1976."

"Our generation has known the Dome from the time it was built," he added. "Now the next generation deserves to benefit from its expansion and renovation."

The Raaschs' have announced a $250,000 commitment to the UNI-Dome renovation project. Both Iowa natives, Jim graduated with a degree in education in 1971 and spent most of his career as a fuel tax auditor with the Iowa Department of Transportation. Bonnie graduated from UNI in 1972 with a degree in library science and spent nearly 40 years as a librarian at Vernon Middle School in Marion.  

"Jim and Bonnie are great Panthers who provide fantastic support to UNI Athletics. If you come to any of our events you will likely see them there," said UNI Athletics Director David Harris. "We greatly appreciate their understanding of the need to renovate the Dome and their willingness to support the project. Interacting with Panthers like the Raaschs' are one of the pleasures of my position. We are so fortunate for their support and loyalty to UNI Athletics."

The couple says their philanthropy honors the community of Panther fans, coaches and student-athletes with whom they have developed a special bond over the years. Jim and Bonnie served as grand marshals for the most recent UNI Homecoming parade in 2022 alongside parade VIPs Kurt and Brenda Warner. The festivities were accompanied by the launch of the university's Our Tomorrow capital campaign.

The UNI-Dome gift adds to the Raaschs' enduring philanthropic giving across many areas of the university including scholarships for student-athletes in track and field, cross country, volleyball, women's basketball and football, as well as an endowed scholarship for education majors. 

"The reason we support UNI Athletics is because of the student-athletes. They always try their best to succeed on the field, and they deserve our support," said Bonnie. "Over the years, being able to go down on the Dome field after football games and interacting with players, coaches and families has been so rewarding."

In recognition of Jim and Bonnie's gift, a premier space in the UNI-Dome will be named in their honor.

The Raaschs' investment supports a three-phased $50 million renovation of the UNI-Dome. Included in the first phase of renovations is replacing the UNI-Dome's nearly 25-year-old fabric roof, reconstructing the west entrance and concourse, creating new and increased restrooms, and providing new and expanded suites..

Phase two of the project will include bowl upgrades and structural improvements along with resurfacing the indoor track. Among the bowl improvements included are new seating, wider aisles, handrails and greater ADA seating. The final phase of the project will include updates to the UNI-Dome sound system, marquee signage and visual identity.

Phase one is estimated at $20 million with 75% of the goal already raised. Phase two is also estimated at $20 million while phase three is estimated at $10 million. The UNI-Dome renovation is a key initiative of the university's Our Tomorrow comprehensive campaign and will be funded primarily with private support. Multiple naming opportunities are available and can be accessed through the UNI-Dome renovation website, unidomerenovation.com.

Donations to the project are tax-deductible through the UNI Foundation and can be made as a multi-year pledge.

For more information and to view the renderings, visit the UNI-Dome renovation website, unidomerenovation.com. Additional questions about the UNI-Dome renovation can be sent to Jamar Thompson, associate athletic director for external affairs, at 319-273-7817 or jamar.thompson@uni.edu.