CORALVILLE - The Magic Bus, a beloved football tailgating venue at Kinnick Stadium until last year’s Iowa City game day vendor clampdown, has found a new home at a Coralville microbrewery.
Beginning Sept. 14, Backpocket Brewing, the new brewery in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing, will host a Friday night Magic Bus concert series with the Iowa City Ducks rugby team, which has operated the bus for years as a fundraiser.
The concerts will run from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday nights before home football Saturdays at the University of Iowa in Backpocket Brewing’s beer garden.
“It’s a pre-tailgating thing at this point,” said Backpocket Brewing Brewmaster Jake Simmons, who was getting ready to brew his first batch at the new brewery Tuesday.
He said Backpocket Brewing is too far from Kinnick Stadium to be part of the actual tailgating scene.
“It’s too bad it can’t exist in the old format, but this new format should have a lot to offer,” he said, noting that the beer garden features plenty of a fire pit, grilling area and green space for yard games.
It also serves brick oven pizzas.
Simmons said the Iowa City Ducks will collect a $5 cover to gain admittance, and the brewery will get revenues from beverage sales. The team uses its revenue to support team activities and not-for-profit groups, including the Variety Club.
- The Magic Bus is returning and will be hosted by Backpocket Brewing in Coralville
- Concerts will begin Sept. 14 and continue every Friday before a Hawkeye home game
- The concerts will be from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
- Cost will be $5
The new format required abandoning the old “all-you-can-drink” for one cover pricing policy of the previous Magic Bus years, Simmons said, “because it’s pretty much impossible to run a business that way.”
Backpocket Brewing opened in June, serving beers brewed at its flagship microbrewery in McGregor. Simmons was brewing his first batch this week in the new microbrewery, which will include a bottling line.
It will be an American wheat beer destined for serving at FRY Fest, the annual tribute to former Hawkeye head football coach Hayden Fry.
Simmons said the beer garden can accommodate about 300, with room for potential expansion, and the brewery can seat about 100 indoors.
The Iowa City Ducks operated the tailgating fundraiser on home football Saturdays on Melrose Avenue across from Kinnick Stadium for many years, but had to relocate when their landlord tried to go into the tailgating attraction business.
In 2011, the city council decided to require permits for the game day vendors on Melrose Avenue, but the new permit system did not allow for alcohol vendors.
- Magic Bus doesn’t get exemption from new Melrose permit system
- ‘Magic Bus’ conditional use permit denied
- By Dave DeWitte