Additional antennas improve cell service at stadium

Information Technology Services (ITS) worked with a cellular service integrator to improve cellphone service at Jack Trice Stadium before the 2023 football season kicks off Saturday. Additional antennas should lead to significant improvements for Verizon customers and others.

"They put up antennas and then brought in the internet service providers -- Verizon, US Cellular and T-Mobile -- and they get on to those antennas," said T.J. Wertz, ITS enterprise infrastructure senior manager. "The antennas integrate the newer technology, and it allows us to give more frequency to each of the carriers."

Wertz said crews installed more than 150 antennas, creating more frequency which allows more cellphone users to be on each antenna. Inside the stadium, a distributed antenna system gives cellphone customers more possibilities for a sight line to an antenna, leading to less fading and better speeds in their cellphone service. The newly installed antennas are designed to provide 5G cellular network capacity.

The RV lot east of the stadium now has three antennas providing cellular coverage. More are planned. 

"It can be hard to quantify how improved service will be," Wertz said. "For Verizon users, because many struggled to get any reception, it should be a lot better because it is going to work. Service should be noticeably better for everyone outside the stadium."

An ITS team ran 18 strands of fiber per antenna to IT rooms at Veterinary Medicine and Black Engineering as part of the project.

Jack Trice Stadium seats more than 60,000 fans, but game day includes thousands more tailgaters also using their cellphones. This is the latest project to improve cell service at the stadium, which included a US Cellular project last summer.

Travel safe, stay cool

The upgraded service will get its first test Saturday, when the Cyclones host Northern Iowa at 1 p.m. It will be a warm day, with temperatures expected to reach the mid-90s.

Road construction will impact fans' travel to the game. South 16th Street from Duff Avenue heading west toward Jack Trice Stadium will have one lane of traffic in each direction. Fans are encouraged to avoid this route from U.S. Highway 30. Alternate routes may include taking Interstate 35 or Dayton Avenue to 13th Street, or South Dakota Avenue from Highway 30 to Mortensen Road. Other potentially impactful construction projects are a closed Oakwood Road west of University Boulevard, and lane closures on Grand Avenue several blocks north of Lincoln Way.

By the Iowa game (Sept. 9), all four lanes of South 16th Street will be open, said Susan Gwiasda, public relations officer for the city of Ames.

All tailgating parking lots open six hours before kickoff and fans are asked to arrive no more than 30 minutes prior to opening. The C4-5 and D3-5 parking lots, impacted as part of the CYTown project, have been completed. Free parking also is available on campus.

To beat the heat, fans may bring one 20-ounce unopened or empty bottle of water into the stadium. There are several bottle filling stations located on the concourses, and the ground floor of the Jacobson Building is air conditioned and open to the public.

Two large cooling fans also will be available on the general concourse. The nine-foot fans circulate cooling mist that can lower the ambient air temperature 10-15 degrees, said director of emergency management in the department of public safety Nick Swanson. The fans are mounted on lawn mower trailers, hold 65 gallons of tap water and can run continuously for five to six hours.

New this year, stadium vendors will accept only cards and mobile payments at their concession and merchandise stands. More information is available online.

The ISU athletics department contributed to this article.