Hilton History

Emily Barske

Hilton Magic:

On Valentine’s Day 1989, there was magic in the air—but it wasn’t just from love. It was building up for a miraculous game to be played in Hilton Coliseum that night.

That day, Buck Turnbull, a sports reporter for the Des Moines Register, used the term Hilton Magic for the first time. The term used to describe the electric and vibrant atmosphere took off quickly.

The phrase was used in marketing pieces for the basketball program in the 1990-91 season. It was even featured in the title of the men’s basketball media guide for the 1991-92 season.

Today, “Hilton Magic” is widely used to express the atmosphere produced by the die-hard cyclone fans. An atmosphere so intense that KCCI Channel 8 News measured decibel levels in the arena to be close to the same level as a jet engine before takeoff. 

After famous basketball analyst, Dick Vitale, called his first game at Hilton last year, the win prompted him to say, “It’s magic, baby!”

ISU Basketball in History:

Iowa State originally held its basketball games in State Gym. During the 1946-47 season, the games were moved to the Armory.

Hilton Coliseum:

In December 1971, ISU Basketball entered a new stage in its history when they began playing in Hilton Coliseum.

“The Coliseum, a part of the Iowa State Center complex, will, I hope fulfill one of the University’s greatest needs for the benefits of students, staff, alumni and the citizens of the State,” President James Hilton, whom the building is named after, said about building the coliseum.

Plans for Iowa State Center and Hilton were announced in the mid-50’s. Fundraising began immediatly after President Hilton’s announcement when a faculty member sent the president a two dollar bill.

With Hilton’s total budget of a little over eight million, the building seating 14,000 became the home of Cyclone basketball.

According to StadiumJourney.com, Hilton Coliseum is among the top 25 best college basketball arenas in the nation. The ranking is based on the atmosphere, cost and fans among other categories.