Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State eyeing $25 million Hilton Coliseum upgrade

Project would widen concourse, expand concessions

Iowa State Cyclones forward Cameron Lard (2) dunks the ball during the first half of their NCAA basketball game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa State Cyclones forward Cameron Lard (2) dunks the ball during the first half of their NCAA basketball game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Iowa State University is eyeing a $25 million upgrade to its 47-year-old Hilton Coliseum that would widen its concourse corridors and renovate its concessions to provide a broader array of food.

The university next week will ask the Board of Regents for permission to proceed with planning and select a design professional for upgrades to James H. Hilton Coliseum, which Iowa State spent $8.15 million to open Dec. 2, 1971, to host Cyclone basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling teams — along with NCAA events and graduation ceremonies.

Proposed upgrades to the 14,384-seat facility, to be covered by athletic department funds and private giving, also will address its aging mechanical system and maintenance issues in two elevators.

As for the more public improvements, Iowa State wants to both upgrade and relocate Hilton’s north and south concourse concessions to the exterior walls, allowing for a wider variety of food and accommodating demand for more concessions, according to Board of Regents documents.

At the same time, concourse corridors will expand into those areas vacated by concessions, widening them substantially to improve patron circulation. The north and south entrance exteriors will receive accessibility and aesthetic improvements under the proposal.

“Home of ‘Hilton Magic,’ the facility is beloved by Cyclone fans and nationally recognized as having one of the best home-court advantages in college basketball,” according to Iowa State’s pitch to the board. “Hilton Coliseum’s aging infrastructure and congested concourses need to be addressed in order to continue to provide the experience expected by fans and patrons.”

Right now, Hilton operates antiquated mechanical equipment, elevators, and portable concession stands that constrict concourse circulation and accessibility, according to Iowa State. The arena saw significant renovations in 1980, 1994, and 2002, and recently received external upgrades to its sidewalks and parking, nearly doubling the vehicle capacity in its closest lots.

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The $3.9 million parking project, completed in the fall, included a new driveway aimed at easing postgame traffic gridlock.

Iowa State in the fall also received Board of Regents permission to proceed with a $90 million project to support a sports performance center and upgrades around Jack Trice Stadium — its 61,500-seat football venue.

Construction on that project is scheduled to begin in the spring and continue through fall 2021.

The university hasn’t released any projected timeline on the Hilton Coliseum project.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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