A Look at the Top 5 Wrestling Programs Facilities

Wrestling is in the blood of Iowans. Dan Gable, a long-time Iowa wrestling coach and former Olympian, explains his passion for wrestling here.

Iowa’s NCAA wrestling program is always listed in the top five programs throughout the country. Iowa State often makes that list too. Oklahoma is another state that takes wrestling very seriously. Iowa’s colleges – plus others like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Lehigh – take pride in their athletes and accomplishments. They also take pride in the beautiful wrestling facilities they’ve developed.

When it comes to wrestling, it’s important to differentiate between form and function. Great wrestling facilities – including decorative mats and padding –boost school spirit and brand a wrestling program. More importantly, these protective mats safeguard the athletes. In a college sport with the highest incidence of concussions, safety is paramount.

Iowa-based SportsGraphics cares about athletes. In fact, safety has always been our highest priority and mission. For more than 25 years, we have provided the highest quality indoor and outdoor wall pads, Ulta-mats, and column and corner pads. Wrestling coaches and trainers appreciate this attention to detail.

We conducted our own independent research to see how our 3” foam wall pads stack up against the competition. Specifically, we studied the shock absorption performance as it pertains to impact.

Using G-max (or impact) testing, we measured the shock attenuation performance and discovered our 3” foam wall pads provide superior protection against concussions.

We understand safety. But we also understand the desire to make wrestling facilities pop with color and showcase mascots and logos. Let’s take a quick look at the five universities listed above to see how they’ve beautified their wresting headquarters.

Oklahoma State University

From 1933-1951, OSU’s wrestlers had the longest home unbeaten streak in OSU history. The wrestlers have won 25 NCAA titles and 32 team conference championships since the arena opened in 1939.

With a cowboy mascot named Pistol Pete, the OSU wrestling team competes in the Gallagher-Iba Arena, named after wrestling coach Ed Gallagher and basketball coach Henry Iba. Once dubbed the “Madison Square Garden of the Plains,” the arena is decked out in the school colors of orange and black. Orange stadium seating and wrestling mats echo the team colors.

Wall graphics greet visitors with “Welcome to Historic Gallagher-Iba Arena.” Bright banners, edged in orange, hang from the ceiling touting both basketball and wrestling accolades. In 2013, OSU installed a large new scoreboard and video board (25’ x 32’).

For an extra punch of color, SportsGraphics would recommend changing the “Welcome” wall to orange with black lettering and installing colorful padded mats to the steps leading up to stadium seating.

University of Iowa

The Iowa Hawkeyes have one of the most successful wrestling programs in NCAA-Division 1 history. With 25 NCAA national championships and 33 Big Ten championships, Iowa has a stellar record.

The Carver Hawkeye Arena, named for long-time supporter Ray Carver, underwent a multimillion dollar renovation in 2011. In 1984 and 2012, the Olympic wrestling trials were held in Carver Arena.

Each end of the stadium has bright gold and black graphics with the word Hawkeyes and the Hawkeye mascot. Large signs encourage the crowd by showing “Noise.”

For wrestling matches, they roll out distinctive floor padding: a black square stamped with Iowa, with a center circle of gold, and an interior circle of black. The effect is spare and clean. The stands recede into the background, making the arena feel like a stage.

To add a bit of visual interest, we would suggest adding some custom gold stadium pads or our Ultra-Mat wall pads.

Iowa State   

With eight national wrestling championships and 17 conference tournament championships under their belt, the Iowa State Cyclones are a team to watch. They have a long history of turning out Olympic wrestlers.

Their 14,384-seat Hilton Coliseum first opened in 1971, with three additions in 1980, 1994, and 2000. The stadium floor is outlined in their deep cardinal color with gold lettering. Stadium seats are the same rich cardinal and wall padding picks up that color.

For wrestling tournaments, ISU sports a large cardinal wrestling mat with a gold circle and a graphic of a Cyclone. A graphical ticker runs around the perimeter at the top section of the arena. Cyclone wall pads adorn the walls at the highest seating level.

At SportsGraphics, we believe this is an ideal facility. It is safe and colorful and wonderfully displays school pride. 

Oklahoma University       

Okalahoma University’s historic Howard McCasland Field House opened in 1928. Named after a former standout basketball player (1914-1916), the Field House underwent a $6 million complete interior renovation in 2005.     It seats 4,640 people and is also home to the men’s gymnastics and volleyball teams.

The Sooners wrestling team have been national champions seven times and they hold 23 conference titles.

Using the school colors crimson and cream, the wrestling pad has an OU logo in the center. Permanent bleachers run along only three sides; temporary bleachers on the fourth. On each end of the court, wall banners show the school’s titles and championships. The walls are plain white and rather bare; the overhead lighting is quite stark. A few moveable banners line the stadium area and a flat wall scoreboard looks much like one used in high schools.

Perhaps because it’s not also a basketball arena, the building is rather plain compared to other school wrestling facilities. SportsGraphics would recommend the addition of crimson wall padding at the base of all four walls and custom banners. Not only would this add some color to a drab space, it would also allow the Sooners to brand their logo and team name. Because the bleachers are so industrial, we would also add our colorful custom vinyl bleacher enclosures.

Lehigh University

The smallest of the universities and the only private one, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks have an impressive record of 27 NCAA National individual championships and 133 All-Americans. Wrestlers from this private school compete in the 16-member Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA).

The Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall – also known as the “snake pit” – is housed on the bottom level of the building. The space is considerably smaller than the arenas profiled above and seats 2,200 people.

On the upper level of Grace Hall is Lehigh’s new 4.2 million training Caruso Complex. Full of sunlight and all new materials, every practice mat has a camera trained on it so players can watch back each scramble.

Adorned in the school colors of brown and white, the intimate Leeman-Turner Arena is full of natural light, and features domed arches, fabric banners, wood accents, wall stencils, a variety of seating options, and old-world style. The area is perfect for wrestling matches.

To add some pizazz to the space, we suggest painting the yellow pull-out bleachers in school colors, adding pads to the bleacher steps, and installing decorative wall pads down near the wrestling action for color and safety.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our look at these five wrestling facilities. Contact SportsGraphics today to see how we can help you. No space is too big or too small and you’ll appreciate our “anything is possible” mentality and outstanding customer service.