Iowa State announces plans for CYTown

University leaders announced details for a multiuse district, called CYTown, to reimagine the Iowa State Center during a news conference Sept. 19 at the Stark Performance Center. The project will sit on three acres between Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum and would be a first-of-its-kind on a college campus.

In phased development, the $200 million district would include a medical facility, retail and office space, an outdoor public plaza and amphitheater, and luxury suites, according to a news release.

"The basis of this project is taking a huge asset we own -- the land -- and finding a way to repurpose it to provide new revenues to attract and retain students, visitors, faculty and staff," said athletics director Jamie Pollard. "It will energize that space in a way that will allow us to reinvest in the Iowa State Center."

When the state Board of Regents meets in November, Iowa State will seek approval for a $25 million first phase of the project, five months after the board gave permission to begin planning the project. Funds for the phase 1 parking lot, lighting and infrastructure improvements would come from university and athletic funds and repaid by project revenues. Work would begin after the football season and is expected to be completed by fall 2025.

Later phases could include a renovation to Hilton, paved parking lots on the east side of University Boulevard and a hotel and convention center south of the Scheman Building, the release said.

The CYTown concept is modeled after the Power & Light District in Kansas City -- an area familiar to Cyclone basketball fans who flock there yearly for the Big 12 championships -- and Titletown, near the stadium of the NFL's Green Bay Packers, Pollard said.


When the project is complete, Pollard estimates it will generate approximately $200 million in revenue over 20 years, with $50 million dedicated to facility improvements at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, Fisher Theater and Scheman. Each building has a significant deferred maintenance backlog; Stephens' currently is estimated at $25 million.

Seventy-five percent of the funds for CYTown are expected to come from land monetization opportunities with the balance coming from fundraising and leases on 20 suites. The suites are part of a three-story building with garages and retail on the first floor. All units would have a balcony, garage and one or two bedrooms.

"It's taking what we do at the football stadium for seven days and building suites our constituents can use 365 days a year," Pollard said.

ISU Research Park executive director Rick Sanders said it's likely some current or new park tenants could come to CYTown.

"We have 17 buildings at the research park and work with just over 100 tenant companies with about 2,500 employees, and we are out of space," he said. "Our focus at the research park is making sure business and industry have access to the talent pool graduating from Iowa State every year. We help keep that relationship robust."

President Wendy Wintersteen believes that could have a major impact for students.

"The opportunities for students to have internships with business, retail outlets and other venues will be tremendous," she said.

Iowa State will continue to own the land CYTown is built on, but the university will work with tenants on the ownership style they prefer, similar to how the research park operates.


Pollard said CYTown would not reduce tailgate parking spaces during the Iowa State football season.

"The most vital asset to Iowa State athletics is our fans' ability to tailgate," he said. "There is nothing we were going to do to take away from that."

The total number of parking spaces available when the project is completed will increase by 200 spots, Pollard said. The development of the RV Village freed up 1,500 parking spaces and new parking lots northwest of the Iowa State Center added more than 300 spaces.

Continued commitment

Three years ago, Wintersteen transferred oversight of the Iowa State Center to the athletics department, which partnered with the Iowa State Research Park to update former ISU President James Hilton's vision of the Iowa State Center.

Pollard said CYTown is the latest project to enhance the southern gateway to the university, which also includes:

  • Pedestrian bridge over University Boulevard
  • RV Village and parking upgrades
  • Stark Performance Center
  • Albaugh Family Plaza and Concourse
  • Sukup Endzone Club
  • Reiman Gardens Plaza
  • Larger parking lots in the northwest corner of the Iowa State Center