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  • James Hilchen

Hilton Coliseum - Iowa State Cyclones

Photos by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Hilton Coliseum 1700 Center Dr Ames, IA 50011

Year Opened: 1971 Capacity: 14,356


Cyclones Basketball in Ames

Hilton Coliseum sits on the grounds of Iowa State University and is home to the Cyclones men's and women's basketball teams as well as the gymnastics, volleyball, and wrestling teams.

Hilton Coliseum opened on December 2, 1971 at a cost of $8.15 million. 14,510 fans showed up that evening to watch Iowa State defeat Arizona. The arena has played host to many NCAA tournament activities including regional basketball, regional gymnastics, and the NCAA wrestling championships. In 2006, the arena received a new video board and sound system at the cost of $2.5 million. Although not usually included with the top college basketball arenas around the country, Hilton Coliseum is a great venue to take in a game.

Food & Beverage 3

Hilton Coliseum provides fans a decent option of foods, with nothing overly elaborate and prices in line with what you would expect at a Division I college basketball arena.

Choices include walking tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, pizza, etc. that will run about $6-$7. Snacks, desserts, and nuts run about $4-$6.

Your best bet for a drink is $6 for a bottomless soda. Pepsi products are served at Hilton Coliseum. Also available are coffee, hot chocolate, and water.

As with many college arenas, alcohol is not served.

Atmosphere 4

In Hilton Coliseum, the concourse is separated from the arena so when getting food or a drink, you can't see the game.

One spot in the concourse worth seeing is the entrance to Johnny's (a spot for donors to get food and drinks). Johnny's refers to legendary basketball coach Johnny Orr, who coached the Cyclones from 1980-1994. The entrance includes display cases with lots of different memorabilia from Coach Orr's tenure with the Cyclones.

Entering the seating area, you are met with cardinal and gold, the schools colors. As the team enters the court, the Cyclone alarm blares and the fans come to life and stay engaged in the game throughout. Every seat in the arena is a theater cushioned seat and they are quite comfortable. Banners adorn the ceiling around the arena with all the accomplishments of the team proudly on display. The video board over the court provides fans an easy opportunity to keep updated on stats and see replays.

Neighborhood 4

Hilton Coliseum is located on the Iowa State campus and sits near Jack Trice Stadium, home of the Cyclones football team. As such, there isn't much right outside the venue but minimal driving will open up a litany of choices.

Welch Avenue is a few blocks west of Hilton Coliseum. On Welch, you can find Cy's Roost and Welch Ave Station. Both are popular before and after the game and are good places to have a drink. For lunch or dinner, there are a few places well worth going to. For comfort food and barbecue, Hickory Park on Duff Ave (the main road through town) can't be beat. They have over 100 menu selections and the barbecue is among the best around. Also on Duff is the Mucky Duck Pub. The British-themed pub has a great environment and great food, including outstanding fish and chips. Another great choice is Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grille. Great drink specials and quality food combine for a great time at Dublin Bay.

Fans 5

Iowa State basketball fans are among the best I've encountered. The fans are a knowledgeable bunch and are quite loud when the situation dictates. While there are always lulls in games, those lulls are at a minimum at Hilton Coliseum. They sense the importance of certain possessions and plays throughout the game. As fans go, they are a nice bunch as well. They make no bones about who they are rooting for but are fair to the visiting team.

The student section is a lively bunch. They stand throughout the game and have come up with creative ways to heckle the opposing team. The heckling is good natured which makes it much more enjoyable for the average fan.

Access 4

Getting to Hilton Coliseum is easily accomplished from I-35. There are plenty of parking areas around with the football stadium and many parks and open areas surrounding the arena. The layout makes for a fairly convenient walk to the arena. Once inside, the concourses are wide enough to get through without much problem and there are ample restrooms for the crowds. Plenty of good handicapped seating areas for fans in wheelchairs are available.

Return on Investment 4

Prices for games generally run $25-$50 depending on the opponent and where your seats are. With the recent success of the team, seats aren't as easy to come by but there aren't any bad seats wherever you sit. Combined with reasonable parking prices and average food prices, attending a game at Hilton Coliseum is one of the best values in the Big 12 and possibly one of the best values of any ranked team.

Extras 4

An extra point goes to the game day staff. They can't be any nicer.

Hilton Coliseum also boasts one of the nicer stores to pick up any Iowa State gear a fan needs. They have a large selection and the store is impeccably clean.

Add another point for the banners that hang from the ceiling of the arena. The majority of the banners are cardinal and gold (the school's colors) and celebrate the championships of the sports teams. Another section has Olympic banners for former students who won gold medals in the Olympics.

A final extra point goes to the band and student section. They keep the game entertaining.

Final Thoughts

Iowa is very much a wrestling and football state. Knowing that going in, I wasn't expecting much out of Hilton Coliseum. My assumption couldn't have been more wrong. Hilton Coliseum is a great place to watch a basketball game. The fans are into the game and are especially loud when the situation dictates. The staff is friendly and the arena is easily maneuverable. Hilton Coliseum is one of the Big 12's hidden gems and well worth the trip to take in a game in Ames.

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