By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
CycloneFanatic.com’s coverage of the 2011 Big 12 football media days in Dallas is proudly brought to you by the Iowa Clinic’s Urology Department.
DALLAS – An arms race. One could argue that this is what college athletics have become over the last decade.
Stadiums are bigger. Facilities are fancier. Pockets are fatter.
The rich keep getting richer, while the lower and middle classes try to somehow keep up.
Iowa State has been (with the addition of the Sukup Basketball Practice Facility) and will continue to make major strides in this important area over the next two years with significant additions to Jack Trice Stadium. A brand new scoreboard will make its debut against in this season’s football opener vs. Northern Iowa on Sept. 3, while a $20.6 million football complex is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2012.
After that, what’s next?
While Iowa State’s Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard would love to see this eventually happen, it likely will not be a bowled in south endzone, unless something changes.
“What we have put our money into right now has been first and foremost, facilities that improve the student-athlete experience and our coaches ability to be successful,” Pollard said. “The second piece has been improvements for fans. That’s why we renovated Jack Trice Stadium, the bathrooms, concession stands and why we put in the scoreboard.”
“The south endzone would be great, but it doesn’t do anything necessarily for student-athletes. It doesn’t really do anything for current fans, other than the fans would love to see it and so would I. That would be great for new fans but we have to get to a spot where we actually need it and can afford it. Right now, we couldn’t afford it.”
Depending on what exactly the university would decide to do with a potential south endzone project, Pollard estimated that it would likely cost anywhere from $30 to $50 million dollars.
Right now, the athletic department has more pressing needs.
“The projects that we would like to be able to address are a golf practice facility for the two golf teams,” Pollard said. “We need to refurbish the Olsen/Jacobson Building after football moves out, which will most likely be an upgrade for wrestling, soccer and softball."
Those sports will move from their current homes at the Lied Recreational Center to the Olsen/Jacobson Building.
In addition to those listed above, finding a new home for the indoor track program is a decision that will have to be made in the near future.
“That building floods and that will be the only sport that is left over there,” Pollard said. “The track has been damaged by the floods so we either will have to replace the whole thing or think about building a new one some place else.”
A new pool for the swimming program is also a necessity.
“When campus decided to build a new rec center and didn’t include a pool, that was a big blow to our swimming program,” Pollard said. “Some time in the future, the school will have to decide what they want to do with the swimming pool and auditorium."
"There are projects out there. There aren’t any time tables on any of those.”
On the new scoreboard
If you’ve driven past Jack Trice Stadium over the last few weeks, you’ve gotten a sneak peek as to exactly how massive this new scoreboard actually is. The pictures don’t do it justice.
“The structure is more impressive than what I thought it would be,” Pollard said. “Hopefully it will sound and function as good as it looks. Unfortunately, it isn’t one of those things that you get to test before you turn it on. It isn’t like hanging a flat screen TV where you can just move it a couple of inches. Where it is, is where it is.”
On basketball student-tickets
Last week, Iowa State announced that student tickets for the 2011-12 men’s basketball season were sold out. Last season, Iowa State saw its number of sold student season tickets drop from approximately 2,500 to 1,600.
“I am really excited,” Pollard said. “To be back to 2,500 and to do it before we’ve even gotten done with orientation on campus is tremendous. That speaks volumes for the excitement that people have for the basketball program this year.”