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The South Endzone Project: Is Iowa State Ready?


In case you have not heard by now, last Saturday's game was the 4th largest home attendance in Iowa State history. That is pretty darn impressive considering Iowa State was playing Monticello High School Western Illinois. And if you're any kind of rabid cyclone fan, this attendance demand has pushed the topic of the mythical south end zone renovation back into everyone's forefront.

Everybody and their mother has an opinion on the south end zone, so after the jump we'll analyze Iowa State's position on conference stadium expansion.

Materials & Methods

Let's start by saying that I'm going to look at this like Jamie Pollard would, as a business. Now with that in mind, let's look at the raw Jack Trice Stadium data to establish our baseline of the facility. The athletic department is particularly prude with these numbers for some reason. Just saying 55,000 might sound more impressive, but it doesn't tell us anything about actual capacity or percent seats occupied per game.

Jack Trice was originally built in 1975 and housed 42,500 seats on the East and West sidelines. There was no press box until 1997. Think about that for a second. If you were a reporter for ABC in 1996 and you came to Jack Trice you sat with or near the fans. That is unbelievable to me as that was only 16 years ago.

In 1976, only one year after construction of the facility, 3,500 temporary seats were added to the south end zone to bring the grand total to 46,000 physical seats.

This was the case all the way up until 2007 & 2008 when the concourses were expanded, the West side gained expanded suites, and the East side a renovated Jack Trice Club Section. Those suites removed the top 10 rows of the lower deck on the West side, which significantly lowered seating capacity. Based off the blueprints from the renderings done in 2006, which include the new suites, we can estimate the total number of seats today.

Lower Deck Blueprints

Upper Deck Blueprints

East & West Upper Deck - 17,728
South Endzone - 3,500
West Lower Bowl - 9,751 seats + 926 suite seating = 10,677
East Lower Bowl - 12,176 seats + 448 club seating = 12,624

The added suites caused a net loss of 1,471 seats from the original 46,000. A very good investment based on the returns of a single suite to a set of bleacher seats. The added hillsides at standing room only bring the final figure to 55,000, roughly 2,500 per hill. For our purposes we will focus mainly on the magical number of 44,529 because there is not a person alive who prefers siting on grass versus a bleacher.

Now that we've established the size of Jack Trice once and for all, let's look at the data from the Paul Rhoads era. There are some very interesting trends and outliers from this data set.

2009 Season
North Dakota State - 48,831 (W 34-17)
Iowa - 52,089 (L 35-3)
Army - 50,532 (W 31-10)
Baylor 42,253 (W 24-10)
Oklahoma State - 40,540 (L 34-8)
Colorado - 43,208 (W 17-10)

Mean Attendance - 46,242
Percent Capacity = 103.8%

2010 Season
Nothern Illinois - 43,116 (W 27-10)
Northern Iowa - 48,874 (W 27-0)
Texas Tech - 43,162 (W 52-38)
Utah - 43,195 (L 68-27)
Kansas - 46,485 (W28-16)
Nebraska - 51,159 (L 31-30)
Missouri - 41,776 (L 14-0)

Mean Attendance - 45,395
Percent Capacity = 101.9%

2011 Season
Northern Iowa - 54,672 (W 20-19)
Iowa - 56,085 (W 44-41)
Texas - 56,390 (L 37-14)
Texas A&M - 51,131 (L 33-17)
Kansas - 51,575 (W 13-10)
Oklahoma State - 52,027 (W 37-31)

Mean Attendance - 53,647
Percent Capacity = 120.5%

2012 Season
Tulsa - 54,931 (W 38-23)
Western Illinois - 55,783 (W 37-3)

Mean Attendance - 55,357 (with 5 home games remaining)
Percent Capacity = 124.3%

Results & Discussion

1.) A 1.9% decrease in attendance from 2009 to 2010. That is not good. Especially considering the 2009 team won a bowl game and upset Nebraska with the Paul Rhoads' "I'm So Proud" Special. Considering the 2010 season had UNI on the schedule plus the last game ever against Nebraska the 1.9% drop from a 2009 schedule that only included Iowa looks even worse.

2.) A 18.6% increase in attendance from 2010 to 2011. This is very, very good.

3.) The last home game under 44,529 attendance (our magical seating number) was only 22 MONTHS AGO... against a border rival... on senior night... for a chance to go to a bowl game. The 2010 Missouri game was a HUGE disappointment for the athletic department and Iowa State in general. The importance of this game at this point in time cannot be understated.

4.) 2009 Oklahoma State was a gigantic fail. After coming off the Chizik debacle and beating Nebraska on the road for the first time in 36 years, the Cyclones were playing for bowl eligibility with a ranked team coming into Jack Trice on national TV. Only 91% of the stadium was full. That may not sound so bad, but it is by far the worst attended game in the Paul Rhoads Era. Especially painful for the athletic department and Jamie Pollard is on record as saying as much.

5.) So far this season has seen a 3.8% increase in attendance from 2011 and a 22.4% increase from 2010. That is especially good considering Tulsa and WIU are not schools that brought a lot of visiting fans. Plus the home slate of games this year is particularly weak with no Iowa, UNI, or Nebraska.

6.) Eight straight games over 50,000. That's eight straight at 112% capacity or better.

7.) 11 out of the last 15 games over 100% capacity of our magical 44,529 seating number.

8.) Two years straight of record season ticket sales including this year over 40,000 season tickets. Almost 90% of the stadium is sold out to season tickets.

9.) Record enrollment. The student section has not expanded in years (currently 7,700), but enrollment has grown by 5,000 and is expected to grow another 5,000. That is a lot of potential future donors.

10.) 6-2 home record over those last 8 games. Trice Magic?

Overall, the trends for Iowa State are very positive. Attendance over the past year has been outstanding and figures to continue as such through the rest of 2012. The outlook for 2013 is also bright as of now, but history has shown that if the team takes a turn for the worse, attendance will suffer. Continued winning at a high level would do wonders for ISU as a whole.

Eight consecutive games with over 50,000 is fantastic. A first in Iowa State history, but more consistency is needed over a longer time frame to justify the immediate need and demand for a south end zone. By the end of the 2012 season, Iowa State should have 13 straight games with over 50,000. Will that be enough proof to show that Iowa State is ready for an expanded south end zone? Only Jamie Pollard knows, but personally for me, it would not. I would like to see 20 games at that level as that would be three straight seasons of high demand and an obvious trend to the better.

The other factor to consider is money. Per Jamie Pollard's own comments, the south end zone overhaul will cost upwards of $80 million. That's a lot of blow hookers Natty Light. Simply put, Iowa State does not have the money as of now. The new TV contracts are going to pump a ton of money into the athletic department, but most of that is already spoken for as every sport has received an upgrade in the last three years.

As time goes on and the debt from these recent upgrades is paid down, Iowa State will have the opportunity to address the south end zone. Pollard is on record as wanting to do it soon, but as you can tell, at this point in time it is unlikely, if not impossible... baring one of us not winning the lottery and having enough money left over to pay for the south end zone after the binge on blow and whores in Vegas.

So be patient and have faith Cyclone fans, it will get done... just not today.

P.S. - The other statistic to take from this is those Kansas scores. Have the Cyclones really only beaten the worst team in the league the last two years by a combined 15 points... with both games at home?!?

Gulp. Obligatory, IT'S A TRAP!