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Floodplain looms large over Iowa State's 'CYTown' plans

The site where the $200 million project will lay across three acres is a known spot for flooding in the past, with floods affecting the area as recently as 2010.

AMES, Iowa — It's a fan's entertainment destination that exists on no other college campus across the country. 

"CYTown" hopes to "capitalize on its unique location in the heart of the Iowa State Center to attract more visitors to the Iowa State and Ames communities," according to a Iowa State University press release on Monday.

It will certainly be one of a kind — From a medical clinic, to retail & office space, to residential apartment suites, CYTown will have just about everything a Cyclones fan could imagine. 

RELATED: Iowa State announces $200M 'CYTown' plans | Here's what is included

But any ISU fan who has tailgated in "Tent Row" in the past knows it has its own issues with water management. 

According to FEMA's website, the site where CYTown will be built is in a "special flood hazard area" with a 1% chance of flooding annually (Zone AE).

"Anybody that thinks, 'They're building this in a floodplain?' We are, but it's been mitigated," Jamie Pollard, Iowa State Athletic Director said during a press conference Monday.

Just 12 years ago, the three-acre site that will become CYTown flooded substantially.

Credit: Kevin Cavallin

"It's got to be built up to the requirement of how high it needs to be to sustain flood," Pollard added.

The first phase of the project includes grading of the land, as well as water and storm sewer drainage improvements.

Being in a floodplain always brings a flooding chance with it, no matter how low that chance may be with improved infrastructure.

"The chance of getting a 500 year flood in any given year is way higher than winning the lottery. Yet, people go out and buy tickets," said Dr. Kristie Franz, the chair of Iowa State's geological and atmospheric department.

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