Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University on Thursday received approval to move forward with plans to improve Jack Trice Stadium by renovating the south end zone, adding seating, and upgrading the south video board.
The project also seeks to develop the green space between the Cyclones' football stadium and Reiman Gardens "to improve both the entry to Reiman Gardens and the south entry to the university."
ISU in November received a "lead gift" of $25 million for the project, which is expected to cost no more than $60 million, according to documents presented to the Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday. Specifically, the money will go toward adding two decks of seating in the south end zone – including club, suite and lounge seating – upgrading the end zone's concourse infrastructure, and upgrading the video board and sound system, according to regent documents.
Warren Madden, ISU senior vice president for business finance, said the athletic department wants to complete the stadium portion of the Jack Trice upgrades by fall 2015. He cited the large lead gift toward the project in calling it "an exciting opportunity."
"There is demand for this expansion and improvement," Madden said.
The stadium upgrade was among several facility requests at all three public universities that the Iowa Board of Regents approved Thursday. ISU also received the go-ahead to plan for a new residence hall and dining center upgrades, although regents expressed some concern about incurring more debt for ISU student housing.
Regent Ruth Harkin said she worries about approving work, and additional debt, for a new residence hall on a campus that already houses more students than Iowa's other regent universities. She said UI and UNI officials also could have upcoming housing requests, but the regents have no guiding policy on student housing.
"I'm concerned that we don't have a uniform policy on that," she said. "I hope we can look into it in the future."
Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter said a comprehensive efficiency study of the three state universities – commissioned in the fall – will include an examination of building needs and infrastructure policy for the three university campuses.
The new 700-bed undergraduate residence hall at ISU comes in response to the campus' growing student body, officials said. Since 2005, according to regent documents, demand for housing on the ISU campus has grown 42.5 percent from 7,909 beds to 11,270 beds.
To meet that demand, ISU has leased 503 beds off campus, built 720 apartment beds and used 436 beds in den and common area locations. Madden told the Board of Regents on Thursday that ISU differs from other state universities in that many more students return to the residence halls after their freshman year.
"At ISU, we are housing about 11,200 students, and that is not quite double the UI, but it's substantially more," Madden said.
ISU's Department of Residence expects a "strong demand for housing" in the foreseeable future, and Madden said the university wants to support and even encourage that.
"Students who live in university housing have higher graduation rates," Madden said, explaining that residence halls' programmatic advantages and proximity to campus promote student success. "Enrollment projections over the next decade show the demand will continue to be there, so we think it makes sense to move ahead with the project."
A detailed budget has not yet been developed for the new residence hall, but officials estimate it will cost about $50 million – to be funded by dormitory revenue bonds.