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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 22, 2008

Hilton changes hands July 1

by Erin Rosacker

On July 1, the keys to Hilton Coliseum will change hands. The athletics department will take over administration of the building, which has been under private management since 1988. SMG, the company that has managed the Iowa State Center since 2001, will continue to manage Stephens Auditorium, the Scheman Building and Fisher Theater.

"We're working to make this administrative change seamless," said vice president for business and finance Warren Madden.

Earlier this month, President Gregory Geoffroy gave final approval to the change in management responsibilities, giving the athletics department the opportunity to reduce costs by streamlining operations and staffing. The change is not expected to significantly impact the scheduling of outside activities in Hilton.

"Our staff looks forward to the added responsibilities and the operational efficiencies that will result from this change," said director of athletics Jamie Pollard. "SMG has done a great job for the university. However, it is important that the athletics department aligns its operations efficiently in order to compete with our peers in the Big 12."


The shift in management responsibility will mean personnel changes. Iowa State Center general manager Mark North said an analysis of existing positions, anticipated position needs and service levels is under way to determine future staffing levels. Athletics will add five positions (operations, technical and event staff), and is working to accommodate part-time staff members who wish to continue working events (ushers, parking attendants, etc.).

Centerplate, which serves as concessionaire at Jack Trice Stadium, will take over food vending at Hilton. Plans already include converting a concourse trophy case into another food service area.

Still the same

Although administration, management and event scheduling for Hilton moves to the athletics department, that doesn't mean the venue is limited to athletics events. Concerts, graduations and other events will continue to use the building.

"The university goal still is to bring in external events that use the multi-building venue," Madden said.

SMG, the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau, and University Conference Services will continue to include Hilton when recruiting events for the Iowa State Center complex.


Madden said the change was an economic and programming decision. Citing changes in the entertainment environment, including the addition of competing venues such as Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, he said athletics events have become a more significant part of what Hilton offers.

"Hilton used to fill an entertainment void in central Iowa," Madden said. "That environment has changed a great deal, both nationally and in Iowa."

As in the past several years, university support remains part of the financial picture for the Iowa State Center. Funds will continue to come from university resources, primarily to support utility costs for university-related users and events.

"As athletics integrates Hilton into its operations, there will be a reduction of university support," Madden said. "This is consistent with the regents' goal of athletics programs becoming more self-supporting."

Madden said the new budget model played a role in the allocations. The Brunnier Museum, ISU Extension's continuing and distance education office, a copy center and ISU Theatre occupy space in the buildings managed by SMG. Under the resource management model, those occupants will pay for their space. Those funds will be allocated from the existing utility support to the Iowa State Center, consistent with the budget model's campus space calculations.

Allocation amounts, which are based primarily on utility costs for the buildings, will support both SMG and athletics. SMG will receive a total of $799,876 annually for its three buildings. Athletics will receive $550,000 of support for Hilton in FY09, decreasing $50,000 each year to FY12.

The Iowa State Center's FY09 total of $1.3 million in university support reflects increased utility costs and follows the new budget model. It also brings university support back to 1988 levels, when private management of the facilities began.


The athletics department will take over management of Hilton Coliseum on July 1. SMG will continue to operate the Iowa State Center's Scheman Building, Fisher Theater and Stephens Auditorium.


"We're working to make this administrative change seamless."

Warren Madden, vice president for business and finance