Iowa State Cyclones

How coronavirus uncertainty affects plans for Iowa State athletics facilities

Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard. (The Gazette)
Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard. (The Gazette)

AMES — Jamie Pollard has been aggressive in his desire to improve Iowa State’s athletics facilities.

He said as much during a video-conference call earlier this month.

Iowa State had three projects in the works before the coronavirus pandemic — the student-athlete performance center, upgrades to Hilton Coliseum and a bridge that connects tailgating lots to Jack Trice Stadium so fans no longer have to cross University Boulevard.

The student-athlete performance center is still on track.

“We already pledged $20 million of our reserve money toward that $90 million project,” Pollard said. “That really took a cut into the reserve.”

Before the pandemic, the student-athlete performance center was set to be completed in early 2021 if construction doesn’t run into any delays. Now, delays seem inevitable.

“We’ve been working closely with the construction firm and they wanted to continue working and we wanted to make sure they were adhering to social distancing and proper medical protocols to make sure their employees are staying safe,” Pollard said. “That project has continued on pace but my guess is that it will run into some delays at some point because I’m sure there will be material delivery issues because things will start to back up.”

The other projects were in the planning phase.

The Iowa Board of Regents said the Hilton project has been pulled from the agenda and will be put on hold. Pollard still is trying to move forward with the bridge project as best he can.

“We just selected the architect for the bridge last week,” Pollard said at the beginning of the month.

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To help navigate the uncertain financial future of Iowa State and college athletics as whole, Iowa State is putting off other, smaller projects.

“Then we had other projects that were more deferred maintenance than a facility project and we’ll pause those and take a year off from those, at least,” Pollard said. “One was re-sodding Jack Trice’s field, the other was the softball field. Those were deferred maintenance and the last time we did Jack Trice was about a decade ago. That will happen next summer because it’s too much to put into the hopper right now from a cash-flow standpoint.”

Iowa State could tap into its reserves and get those deferred maintenance projects done, but to do that, it would also have to raise the threshold for donations and ticket prices, something Pollard doesn’t want to do.

“There were Cyclone Club increases that were going to go into effect this upcoming January — and we were doing that to build facilities and pay coaches,” Pollard said. “We rolled that back a year to save our donors $2.5 million in donations that they would’ve been required to make to keep their tickets. There will also be payment plans and no price increases on tickets.

“We want to help our donors and fans work their way through this because we will, at some point in time, re-engage as a society. And when we re-engage, we all know sports will be a great healing opportunity for so many people. I want people to join us when that moment comes and I don’t want people to feel like they’re priced out of the market when it’s time to come back.”

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