AMES — Iowa State’s Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard delivered a landmark announcement on Monday morning. After receiving a lead gift of $25 million from the founders of Reiman Publications, plans are in place for Iowa State to create an “inspiring campus entrance” and also enclose the south end zone of Jack Trice Stadium.
Below is a complete transcript from Pollard’s question and answer session with reporters shortly after making the announcement.
Q: If everything goes as planned, what capacity do you anticipate the stadium holding?
JP:Well, the project still has to be planned out. We have some ideas and I think the main focus of our ideas is that we want to be able to maintain the great environment that we have in Jack Trice Stadium and not be as focused on the number of seats. What we have experienced over the last several years in our stadium is unbelievable and we need to capture that and enhance it and do whatever we can to maintain what we have developed. The number of seats will actually be a byproduct of that process.
Q: I know this has been a question that you have gotten from fans on call-in shows and what not. How exciting is it to be able to give them a different answer?
JP: It truly is exciting for our institution. We started this concept five years ago and at that time it was just a stadium project. I’ve said within the last year what has been really neat about the development of this project is it has become a university initiative to beautify the campus, to improve the entrance to Iowa State, to change the entrance to Reiman Gardens and also to bowl in the stadium. The fact that it is now part of a much more comprehensive university plan is so much more exciting for our institution than if we were just doing something to the football stadium.
Q: It wasn’t very long ago you were saying that bowling in the end zone was a ways off. What has changed?
JP:Roy and Bobbi Reiman and $25 million (laughter).
Q: Is that all that you were waiting on? A donation?
JP: You know we have talked about several things along the process. We have talked about having success. We have talked about selling tickets. We have talked about having an environment within the stadium that made you feel you needed to do more in the stadium. But then we also said it was a major, major financial undertaking. The potential cost of a project this nature could be half of what we have spent in the last five years to develop multiple other facilities within athletics. So to have donors step up and say that they want to make this happen not only for the athletic department but to make it happen for the university. To greatly enhance the entrance to Iowa State, it’s a really neat thing. That’s really what made it happen was when Roy and Bobbi sat down and said, ‘This is something that we want to do and we want to see it happen.’
Q: What was the timeline for how all of this played out?
JP: Maybe one of the best kept secrets. We found out about nine days ago, the Friday before Oklahoma. I personally found out just before I boarded the plane to go to Oklahoma. It was one of the more happy flights I have ever had.
Q: You said that this is a $25 million gift. How much do you anticipate the entire project costing? Where would that money come from?
JP:What’s neat about a gift of this nature is that it inspires others. Some of the donors that I placed calls to this morning, that I was able to share with them, ‘Thank you.’ Because they were just as much a part of this as the Reimans making the gift. When others stepped forward, the Bergstrom’s, the Sukup’s, have done great things for Iowa State. People get inspired by that. The Reiman’s gift is a lead gift. I fully expect there will be others that will want to get behind the project and be a part of it. It will also spur fundraising throughout the rest of the campus because this is bigger than just the stadium. It is the entrance to campus. It is the Reiman Gardens entryway. So there is a lot of opportunity for our institution. Our institution also is going through a master plan. Our enrollment is growing astronomically. We have to look at where are our students going to live? Where are our students going to recreate? Where do students park? I view that there will also be other gifts but there will also be a business model component of it as we work through however the stadium gets configured. We have back of the napkin plans but now we need to go to the Board of Regents, get the formal approval, higher the architects, sit down with construction folks and really start to map out our vision.
Q: How much has to be raised before you start digging?
JP: This project will go to the Board of Regents in February. Our plan, if we are going to get it done for the fall of 2015, if it can be done in that time frame and that is an if, we would have to start digging at the end of next football season.
Q: How much money do you anticipate the project will cost once completed?
JP: That is a hypothetical question at this point until we can map it out. When you get into building these things, it is like building a house. You can have a range and you’ll decide as you work through it. Part of it with a stadium project is, what is the seating? Is it seats? Is it club seats? General seating? That all will determine what that business model is. But we need to sit down with the architects and really define what we are thinking visually to be able to determine the ultimate answer to that question. I wouldn’t be standing here this morning feeling comfortable about the fact that we plan to go forward and start something at the end of next football season – what we are starting has yet to be determined.