Final approval given for a $19.5 million overhaul beginning after '07 season.
Iowa City, Ia. - A $19.5 million renovation and expansion project at Jack Trice Stadium received final approval Wednesday from the State Board of Regents.
The regents board voted unanimously to allow the construction of 24 new luxury skyboxes on the west side of Iowa State University's football stadium as well as renovation and expansion of the stadium's east side club section.
"We're all eager to see your new facility and wish you luck getting it done in a timely and cost-effective way," Michael Gartner, board president, said.
Regent Craig Lang, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, abstained from the vote because Farm Bureau is negotiating a deal for a suite at the stadium, Lang said.
The project also includes replacement of concession stands and restrooms on the stadium's west side. The total number of skyboxes will increase from 24 to 48. Officials have said they have received written commitments for leasing of 44 of the 48 skyboxes beginning in 2009.
The skybox and club seating project, which is scheduled to begin at the end of the 2007 football season and be completed before the 2009 season, is part of an overall $135 million facility improvement plan by Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard.
Last June, officials unveiled a master plan that included expansion of luxury suites and club seating at the football stadium as well as "bowling in" the south end zone at a total cost of $35 million.
In addition, Pollard has proposed $100 million in renovations and the expansion of Hilton Coliseum to include new athletic administrative offices, new practice facilities for the men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams and the addition of suites inside the arena.
In approving the project, the Regents have agreed to permit the sale of $20.3 million in bonds to generate the money to complete the project, as well as refinancing $2.5 million worth of debt for existing suites at the stadium.
"That is good news and a great step forward for Iowa State athletics," Steve Malchow, senior associate athletic director, said. "We are looking forward to getting the project under way."
The debt service on the 25-year bonds is expected to be about $1.5 million annually. Iowa State athletic officials have said that the debt service would be paid from rents, profits and income from operation of Cyclone athletic facilities.
Athletic officials have estimated that the debt service on the project can be paid with minimal increases in football ticket revenue and a 2 percent increase in men's basketball ticket prices every fifth year, after the 2010-11 fiscal year.
In addition, the department will continue to receive $2.9 million in general fund support as well as $1 million in student fee support. No increase in student fees is planned, but those fees are to be used as the back-up pledge for retirement of the proposed bonds.
Gartner asked why gradual profit margin increases for athletics are not used to decrease the amount of general education fund money going to sports.
"Over the years, your margin builds up, but it doesn't show any decrease in general university support," Gartner said. "Is this being put under the mattress for phase 2 or is there hope general university support will zero out?"
Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy said it does not seem likely that university financial support for sports would stop in the near future.
"We would like to be in a position at some point where that could occur. But given what we would like to accomplish, I do not believe that we should at this point in time project a decrease in that going forward," Geoffroy said.
Overall, the department estimates that the Iowa State athletic budget will increase in operational spending from $31.1 million during the current fiscal year to $44.5 million in 2017-18.
Reporter Tom Witosky can be reached at (515) 284-8522 or firstname.lastname@example.org