Jack Trice Stadium provides movie night fun

Friends and families gather at Jack Trice Stadium to watch a movie on the scoreboard. The movie event was the first one of its kind at Iowa State, and officials hope for it to be an annual event.

Photo: Courtesy of Iowa State Athletics

Friends and families gather at Jack Trice Stadium to watch a movie on the scoreboard. The movie event was the first one of its kind at Iowa State, and officials hope for it to be an annual event.

Saige Heyer

With summer in full swing, families are looking for things to do outdoors as the weather gets nicer and the days get longer. The Jr. Cyclones Club provided families with an area just for that – a relaxing evening outside in the perfect weather.

Saturday, May 18 marked the inaugural Movie Night at Jack Trice Stadium, sponsored by the Jr. Cyclones Club. Beth Handlos, administrative specialist for Iowa State University’s Intercollegiate Athletics and Marketing office, said the event will always be free and open to the public. 

“Wreck-It Ralph” was shown at 7 p.m. on the 36-foot-by-79.5-foot video board at Jack Trice Stadium. The north, south and east gates of the stadium opened at 6 p.m., and approximately 4,000-5,000 people came to the event.

Guests could only bring in blankets to sit on the field with. Strollers and wheelchairs had to be parked on the asphalt around the field. These rules were put in place to protect the field.

Levy Concessions sold nachos, pretzels, popcorn, candy, Coke products and water. Handlos said they sold more popcorn that night than they do at an Iowa versus Iowa State football game.

They had to be careful what they served in order to protect the turf on the field. No outside food or drink, peanuts or anything with shells or ice cream on a stick were allowed for this reason.

The Iowa State Athletics department decided to bypass the royalty fees they get from the concessions, so everything was at reduced prices.

“It really couldn’t have gone any smoother. We’re expecting larger crowds next May,” Handlos said.

Handlos said it was just as family-friendly as game day.

“That day happened to be perfect,” Handlos said. “We kept close eye on the weather that week, the day before, that morning, that afternoon, etc. We made sure that there wasn’t a drop of rain in the forecast – and of course not the slightest threat of severe weather for our movie night.”

Handlos said they wanted the first movie night to be outside. Had there been inclement weather, the event would have been held in Hilton Coliseum. There, the guests would’ve sat in the seats and the video board would have been adjusted.

This event will only be held once a year because of the time it takes to prepare the field for football season. It will be held in the spring, most likely some time between Iowa State graduation ceremonies and Memorial Day.

“The feedback we’ve gotten humbles us,” Handlos said. “There were many comments on the Iowa State Athletics’ Facebook page from people saying they had a great time and would like to do it again. Fans and families were going up to anyone with an ISU staff shirt and saying ‘thank-you.’”

Keith Robinder, Director of Student Assistance in the Dean of Students office, said he expected kids to be running around while watching the movie, but instead they were sitting there focusing on the movie.

“It was fabulous, it was a great environment,” Robinder said.

Robinder went to the movie night with his wife and kids and said it was hard to find a spot on the field by 7 p.m. He recommends people get there early next year to find a spot on the field to spread their blankets out on.

Robinder said atmosphere at Jack Trice Stadium while watching the movie was fun. However, he wasn’t sure if they would have gone had it been held at Hilton Coliseum because it wouldn’t have had the outdoor movie affect.

The new video board gave Handlos and Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard the idea to have a movie night when it was first installed. Handlos took over the Jr. Cyclones Club in the spring of 2012 and it has always been a goal of her’s to do a movie night.

Handlos said it took months of planning for this event to take place. The turf manager at the stadium gave updates on the weather from four different radars and said the best time to have it was May or June.

A movie licensing company in St. Louis was contacted regarding the fees and legalities since it was a public showing. They practiced showing the movie on the video board to make sure everything was working properly and there was nothing wrong with the movie.

Although Handlos helped coordinate the event, it was a team effort to get everything up and running. Many departments put in a lot of time and work including the athletics department’s marketing team and interns, events management, the custodial department, turf management, Daktronics (who run the video board, music and slides during games), Levy concessions (who run the concession stands during games), the ushers from Hilton Coliseum and Jack Trice Stadium and the facilities crew.