Letter to the editor: Know the facts, vote for more space


A 3-D rendering of where the proposed convention center would look like in the proposed building area.

Should Iowa State University students care about next Tuesday’s vote on a new convention center in Ames? Should you? The answer is a resounding yes. Regardless of how you vote, being an interested, active member of this community is part of your education and the commitment to being engaged is a lifelong obligation. 

On Tuesday, all Ames residents are being asked whether or not to approve a bond issue that would generate $19 million — one-half of the financing for a new convention center. Iowa State University is committed to providing the other half. The convention center would be attached to the Scheman Building, and would add flat space for large meetings, exhibits, banquets, receptions and other events that aren’t possible today at Iowa State or elsewhere in Ames.

When you vote, you should consider a wide range of factors. The following are reasons why the city and Iowa State have collaborated on this proposal:

Job Fairs: There’s not enough space to include all of the employers who want to interview ISU students.

Flexible space for meetings and other events: The proposal creates options for regional and national meetings of student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, that can’t fit in Memorial Union, the Alumni Center or other meeting spaces in Ames. For weddings, particularly in the spring and summer, there’s not enough space for receptions and dinners for ISU students and alumni who want to tie the knot.

Large conventions: Scheman provides 21 classrooms and a 450-seat auditorium; the convention center would add 35,000 square feet of open, flat space. This combination — classrooms, auditorium and flat space — is a real asset in the competition for large events.

Scheman upgrade: Another key part of the project is the much-needed renovation of Scheman, a nearly 40-year-old building that needs 21st century technology, a must for meeting facilities.

Collaboration between the city of Ames and ISU: The proposal carries forward a tradition of collaboration between the city and the campus. Every time you get on a CyRide bus, or strap on your skates at the hockey arena, you’re benefitting from a town-gown closeness and cost-sharing that is the envy of college towns across the country. The convention center is another example of this relationship. We propose to share the cost of construction because we know we’ll share the benefits.

Students sometimes don’t think of themselves as residents of the community, but students are an important part of Ames. The bond vote on Tuesday, March 4 is an opportunity for students to have their say about the community 

We encourage you to cast your vote on March 4.