clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Visitor’s Guide to Ames Ahead of Cy-Hawk Showdown

Planning to catch the Iowa-Iowa State showdown in person? Here’s a quick guide to Ames.

Northern Iowa v Iowa State
Heading to Jack Trice Stadium this Saturday? Here are some tips.
Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Saturday marks the 68th meeting between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones and the first where both teams are ranked inside the top-10 nationally. As Hawkeye fans are no doubt aware, this marks the second consecutive meeting in Ames and the second consecutive meeting that will feature ESPN’s College Game Day in the hours leading up to the event.

Given the short travel distance and the excitement around the game, Hawkeye fans may have an increased interest in making the trip to Ames for Saturday’s game. While The Pants would normally be succinct in any sort of travel guide to Ames and simply say “don’t”, that’s less helpful for those of you legitimately interested in seeing Iowa in person again.

So we’ve enlisted some help from our, uhhh, counterparts at Wide Right Natty Light. Here’s a look at some travel details that may (or may not) be helpful for Hawkeye fans looking to make it to Jack Trice Stadium for Iowa’s matchup at 3:30pm CT this Saturday.

Best place to stay for Game Day?

There are a handful of hotels around Ames, and all are perfectly solid options.

Best place to eat on Game Day?

Start your morning at the Tip-Top lounge and get some of their famous chili. If it’s an afternoon game and you don’t have a specific tailgate, I’d recommend lunch at either Wallaby’s or El Azteca, but there are a bunch of places around town worth checking out.

Any COVID-19 restrictions to be aware of (masks, social distancing, etc)?

As of the time of me typing this out, there aren’t any COVID restrictions as of right now, but that could easily change.

Any travel or traffic items to note?

Like every other college town, traffic leaving the stadium is a nightmare, but I actually don’t think it’s *that* bad compared to other places I’ve been. As a general rule, I would recommend heading east to Dayton Ave or even taking Lincoln Way east out of town over to Nevada, then getting on 30 East there if you’re going that direction.

Any other tips or tricks to attending a game? Sites to check out, places to avoid, etc?

Iowa State tailgating tends to be an all-day event, but if you do have some time, Reihmann Gardens is right next to the stadium, and is definitely worth checking out. Welch Ave near campus is where most of the bars are, and is usually pretty busy after games if you aren’t trying to get out of town ASAP.

As it relates specifically to the ESPN College Game Day event, here’s some information courtesy of

Location – The show will be staged south of Jack Trice Stadium from Reiman Plaza.
Time – ESPN’s College GameDay runs from 8-11 a.m. (Central)
Admission – Free for all fans and open to the general public.
Pit – A limited number of fans will be allowed in the pit located behind the stage.

ESPN staff will manage entry to the Pit.

Here are ESPN policies for the Pit:

-No food or drink
-No vulgar or inappropriate signage
-No offensive language
-No solicitation
-No bags, backpacks or purses
-No pens, pencils, markers or dry erase boards
-Throwing of objects is prohibitive

The pit opens at 5:30 a.m. Fans will not be allowed to camp out on the grounds in advance of entry into the show’s footprint. No one will be allowed to que until 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Security will have a presence in the area to help monitor activities.

There will be plenty of room around the pit for students, families and kids to enjoy the show without having access to the pit.

Image via

Signs – Fans are encouraged to bring signs – the best ones will make the show, so be creative!

SATURDAY (Sept. 11)

5:30 a.m. – Entry to both the pit and the areas surrounding the stage open
Early morning – ESPN’s SportsCenter “live hits”
7:30 a.m. – “Countdown to GameDay” digital show with Christine Williamson and Harry Lyles, Jr.
8 a.m. – College GameDay starts
11 a.m. – College GameDay ends
1 p.m. – Spirit Walk (Tent Row off S. 4th Street and North of Jacobson Building to Stark Performance Center entrance
1:30 p.m. – Stadium gates open for suites and ISU students
2 p.m. – Stadium gates open for general public seating and club spaces (Jack Trice Club, Sukup End Zone Club)
3:36 p.m. – Kickoff for Iowa State vs. Iowa at MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium


All parking lots – donor and public– will open at 6 a.m. Once parking around the stadium is filled, fans are encouraged to seek parking on campus.

Enjoy yourself responsibly if you are planning to make the trip to Ames. Be safe and try to remain modestly civil. Go Hawks!