Jack Trice Stadium - Iowa State Cyclones
Photos by Aaron Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Jack Trice Stadium 1732 S 4th St Ames, IA 50011
Year Opened: 1975
Seeing Red in Ames
The Iowa State Cyclones have historically been a mid-tier team in the Big 12. However, over the years the program has quietly made improvements to their home field, Jack Trice Stadium, and in a decent year, the atmosphere at this 61,500-seat venue can rival that of many of the other teams in the conference.
Jack Trice Stadium opened in 1975 with a win over Air Force. Three-level video boards were added to each end zone later, one in 2002 and the other in 2011, and the most recent upgrade (in 2015) enclosed the south end zone to bring the facility up to its current capacity. The stadium is named after former Iowa State football player Jack Trice, who passed away in 1923 as a result of injuries sustained during a game at the University of Minnesota. The details surrounding Trice’s death remain controversial to this day, as many of his teammates claim he was intentionally targeted because of his skin color – Jack Trice Stadium is the only FBS venue that is named for an African-American individual.
Food & Beverage 5
While the food and beverage selection at Jack Trice Stadium doesn’t offer a ton of variety, there are a few items available here that you won’t find anywhere else.
Main dishes include your stadium basics such as burgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza, chicken tenders, and tacos, but also include pork tenderloin and (given the close proximity to Wisconsin) cheddar bratwurst. These items will run you $5 to $11, depending on whether or not you add fries to your order.
However, it is the side/dessert items where Jack Trice Stadium really shines – besides the standard fare such as popcorn, sno cones, funnel cake, cotton candy, pretzels, nachos, packaged candy, and peanuts, you can also find poutine, cheese curds, and even fried Twinkies; who could ever say no to that? These items start at about $4 and top out at $7 – the fried Twinkies are actually tied with several other items as being the cheapest on the menu.
Drink options here include bottled or fountain soda, bottled water, Gatorade, lemonade, coffee, and hot cocoa. Jack Trice Stadium also offers exactly one kind of beer – Rise.
In recent years it is a great day to be a Cyclones fan, with signature wins last season against the likes of Oklahoma and TCU. Games at Jack Trice Stadium lately tend to be near-sellouts, and not because of the visiting fans either – the stands are packed wall to wall with red-clad Iowa State loyalists.
Besides the energy and fan noise (more on that later), the staff at Jack Trice Stadium puts on a great show with cones of fire spurting forth when the Cyclones come onto the field, plenty of colorful flags, and a great mascot who rides in on a cross between a Hummer and a golf cart. With teeth bared, Cy is constantly all over the stadium interacting with fans, and the Iowa State band does a great job as well, including a post-game concert on the north end of the field to celebrate the win.
The stadium looks incredibly modern despite its age, and the massive scoreboard in each end zone make it easy to follow the action. There is also a small berm area on the north end of the stadium, which many fans seem to enjoy watching the game from.
While there is plenty to do in Ames, Iowa (despite it not being a huge town), Jack Trice Stadium is unfortunately fronted on the east side by intramural fields, a park, and a massive gold course, so it ends up being a bit far away from most of the local eateries, which are located along Duff Avenue. Duff Avenue is the place to head before or after the game to visit restaurants like Old Chicago and Texas Roadhouse. Culver’s, a regional favorite specializing in custard, is also in that area, but if you feel like taking in the college vibe, you might try Blaze pizza, which is north of the stadium on Lincoln Way.
If you plan to be in town for the day or for the weekend, most of the local attractions tend to be parks, or you can visit the ISU Arboretum. However, if you happen to be into wacky roadside America pitstops, you can also find the World’s Largest Concrete Gnome in Ames, not far from Jack Trice Stadium. And once you have taken your selfie with the famous gnome, there are a few hotels nearby to rest up for the trip home – there are not a ton of hotels near the stadium (Days Inn and Best Western are the closest), but there are a good deal more located a few miles away along I-35.
Iowa State fans are pretty impressive for a typically mid-tier team – most of them show in Cyclones gear, and they are very loud and bring a lot of energy into the stadium. They cheer loudly for most of the game, don’t tend to leave early, and are fairly good sports even when confronted with a few losses.
The student section is not surprisingly the most energetic, especially right before kickoff as they madly wave their bright yellow towels. Another fantastic moment comes after halftime, when the student section unfurls the gigantic Iowa State banner, which covers half of the seats in their section.
As mentioned before, Jack Trice Stadium is bordered by fields, a park, and a golf course. As such, it is a pretty long walk from the parking area for most fans – the reserved parking is adjacent to the stadium on the north side, but does not have very many spaces, and of course only season ticket holders can park there. The rest of us are left to park at the golf course, and it seems rather odd, because as you walk up to the stadium you will come upon a massive empty field next to it, which is ostensibly for tailgating, but there is no one there – it seems like this area could have been used for parking instead.
Once you get into Jack Trice Stadium, however, there is plenty of room to move around. Lots of entrances, plenty of concessions stands and bathrooms, a wide concourse, and good signage telling you how to get to your seats. The only potential downside with regard to access is the parking, which even as far away as it is will run you about $20. It may also be a very long drive to get to Ames, depending on where you are coming from.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Iowa State Cyclones games at Jack Trice Stadium will run about $30 to $40 in the upper level, which is pretty typical for college football these days. However, even for big games you should be able to find them much cheaper on third party sites. On the plus side, you are also guaranteed to have some solid teams comes to town, as Iowa State regularly plays the likes of Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and TCU. You will also be pretty close to the action – because Jack Trice Stadium is not all that big, and also because of its design, even in the cheap seats you won’t be far from the action.
Jack Trice Stadium has some interesting tailgating, with things like old school buses painted in Iowa State colors sitting outside of the stadium – maybe a little redneck, but a lot of fun. The stadium also sports a ton of bright color, which this writer thinks helps get fans in the mood.
The ability to get so close to the action on the field is also a plus, since you can buy lower level seats to games at Jack Trice Stadium so cheaply on the secondary market. The two massive scoreboards are also amazing, and make it really easy to see replays.
Depending on where you live it might be a bit of a haul to get to Ames, Iowa, but it is definitely worth the trip. Jack Trice Stadium is a solid venue in a top conference, so you really can find the best of both worlds here – great facility, and great football.