With key returning starters on both sides of the ball and a manageable schedule, Cyclone fans are spending their summer evenings with realistic hopes of an outright Big 12 North 1st place finish, as well as a warm bowl destination over the Christmas (dare I say New Years?) holiday.
The optimism is found not only among the fan base, but is spilling over into all facets of the athletic administration departments. Cyclone supporters are pledging their belief in Coach McCarney's squad by opening their wallets.
Jared Sturtewagen, in his second year as Athletic Ticket Manager, is noticing the fruits of last falls football labor. "People are obviously excited by the finish last year," Sturtewagen said.
Through the end of June, around 21,000 football season ticket packages have been sold; up 3,500 from this time last year.
Sturtewagen noted a big demand for tickets will occur in August, especially from the ISU student population. "Most students don't buy until they get back to school," Sturtewagen said. He added that in a typical year between 5,000 and 7,000 student season tickets are sold. Considering fan expectations are unusually high, the hope is that student sales will increase.
The Ticket Manager mentioned that along with the lofty hopes for the Cyclones, big name opponents Kansas State, Colorado and of course Iowa pay visits to Jack Trice Stadium. "It's a pretty good schedule," Sturtewagen said.
Sturtewagen is estimating that season ticket sales will top off between 25 and
Prior to Sturtewagen, David Crumm was the Athletic Ticket Manager for seven years. A year and a half ago, Crumm was promoted to the Assistant Athletic Director for Major Gifts. "We raise money for capital projects," Crumm said as he summed up his position.
His most recent accomplishment was securing funding for the Rod and Connie French Athletic Academic Center. The facility that has been on the wish list for years just recently broke ground . The 10 million dollar building will be located on Beach Avenue, just west of the Maple-Willow-Larch dormitories. Expected completion is the spring of 2007.
"We finished our fund raising in March and it's been on the fast track process
since then," Crumm added.
The winning trend in Cyclone athletics helps fund raising, but he said it is not as important as one might think. "The philanthropic donors understand the cause and mission of Iowa State," Crumm said. He explained that many donors, especially those who give large gifts, don't base their generosity on the winning percentage of the football team. "They are more concerned about the student athletes being good citizens," Crumm said.
He added that the success of the 2004 football team has helped expand the pool of potential donors. "Winning never hurts," Crumm laughed.
Excitement and expectations are also high in the offices of the National Cyclone Club, another fundraising wing of the Athletic Department. The money raised through club memberships is used to fund athletic scholarships at Iowa State.
Mike Mores is the Director of the National Cyclone Club, which currently has around 5,400 members. Mores believes the success last year in football and the soaring expectations for this season has not just helped his organization, but is helping the entire Athletic Department with their financial goals. "Season ticket renewals are up," Mores said, citing an example of this success.
Mores said there are many benefits Cyclone Club members receive, such as parking passes, priority seating and even discounts for Cyclone apparel. "(National Cyclone Club members) also get the first chance to buy postseason tickets," Mores said.
One of the fun activities Mores helps organize is the summer Cyclone Club circuit, where events are held at each of the 19 local affiliations. A typical event includes a round of golf, banquet, silent auction and speeches by Iowa State coaches. "It's a chance for staff and administration to mingle with local fans," Mores said.
John Walters, play by play voice for Cyclone football and basketball, says there is always a lot of enthusiasm at these outings, but the fans seem generally happy with not only football, but also the direction of the men's and women's basketball programs. "I can tell from talking to fans that they are very fired up about the upcoming year," Walters said.
Let's hope that this excitement and optimism among the fan base and echoing throughout the Athletic Department translates into a memorable gridiron season for Iowa State.