Jack Trice Stadium, Hilton Coliseum Receive Wireless Access Point Upgrades

Cyclone fans can look forward to easier entry into Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum this fall through the joint efforts of Information Technology Services (ITS), Iowa State University Athletics, and Ticketmaster to upgrade the wireless access points used for event ticket scanning.

Each year, nearly 1 million visitors travel to Iowa State’s main athletic facilities, where scanning devices provided by Ticketmaster connect to software through the local network to check the validity of tickets. To alleviate connectivity issues ahead of this fall’s athletic events, Ticketmaster recently swapped out the older scanning devices at Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum for newer ones. To support the upgrade, modifications to the wireless access points (APs) utilized by the scanners were also necessary, and ITS staff members spent the summer replacing the APs at both locations.

“The new state-of-the-art access points and scanners will be more reliable, and getting in to athletic events will be easier for fans,” said Assistant Athletics Director for Ticket Operations Justin Thompson. “Good infrastructure is critical to ensuring a positive gameday environment, and now we have a strong network designed to ensure the large number of people Iowa State events attract get through the gates efficiently.”

The new access point installations started in July and were completed in early August ahead of the much-anticipated Iowa State fall sports season. A wireless access point is a networking hardware device that allows wi-fi devices, like ticket scanners, to connect to a wired network. A total of 14 new access points were installed at Jack Trice Stadium this summer – two at the Jack Trice Club, four at the Sukup End Zone Club, and eight at the surrounding gates. Hilton Coliseum received eight upgraded access points at the building’s various entrances.

The compulsory upgrade will also resolve location-based connectivity issues and network overcrowding. 

“Jack Trice Stadium has had connectivity issues in the past due to the existing access points being too far away from where the ticket scanners are used,” said ITS Network Engineer Mike Vinson. “The new access points are closer and will provide the new scanners with more consistent access to the network.” 

The new scanners utilize the 5 gigahertz (GHz) frequency band — a range of radio wave frequencies used to transmit data in the wireless spectrum — instead of the 2.4 GHz band previously used. Using the 5 GHz band prevents network oversaturation and allows the ticket scanners to better communicate data on a channel that is clear. Ultimately, the upgrade will mitigate congestion in lines and provide event-goers with seamless access to the facilities on game day.

ITS designed all of the access point installations with permanence in mind, and several of the ones housed outside of Jack Trice Stadium are able to withstand precipitation, exposure to the sun, seasonal temperature changes, and humidity. While Hilton’s access points are also permanent installations, they did not require weatherproofing.

“This project provided a unique challenge," said ITS Cable Plant Engineer Al Miller. "While the access points at Jack Trice Stadium need to be protected from the elements, they also need to be inconspicuous and out of the way so people don’t try to tamper with them. The access points we installed are designed to be weather-resistant, but the more we can to do to help protect them, the better. Some were even installed behind the Sukup End Zone Club’s letters.”

Following the conclusion of the project, ITS and Ticketmaster have tested the new access points and internet access at Jack Trice Stadium, and the walk-through passed inspection. 

Fans will have the chance to experience the upgraded ticket scanning system during Iowa State’s first home football game against the University of Northern Iowa on Aug. 31, and at the first home volleyball game against the University of South Dakota on Sept. 3.