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Feature

An artist's rendering of an ariel view of the proposed Gopher football stadium.

Gopher stadium legislation introduced

By University News Service

From eNews, March 18, 2004

University officials applauded legislation introduced Monday (March 15) that supports the construction of a Gopher football stadium on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. The legislation, Senate File 2825, authored by Senators Geoff Michel, Larry Pogemiller, Steve Kelley, Cal Larson, and James Metzen, authorizes construction of an on-campus Gopher stadium to be financed with substantial private fundraising and a significant state contribution. "Bringing Gopher football home represents an incredible opportunity to reenergize campus life, attract significant private support, and bring pride to the state," says Joel Maturi, athletics director. "We need a partnership with the state to achieve that goal, and this legislation is an important step." The University has launched a Web site, http://www.umn.edu/stadium, to educate students, fans, and alumni as well as the broader public about its stadium options. The Web site includes the recent stadium feasibility study and a petition people can sign to demonstrate support for the project. According to the study, a 50,000-seat facility could be built northeast of Mariucci and Williams arenas for a total cost of $222 million. The University's lease in the Metrodome expires at the end of the 2011 football season, and the University is exploring new options now because it will take at least four years to build a new stadium. "We have concluded that an on-campus Gopher stadium is our best option--for the football program, for students, for fans and for the state of Minnesota," says Richard Pfutzenreuter, vice president for finance and chief financial officer. "Financially, an on-campus stadium is the best deal for the people of Minnesota and for the University," The University estimates that being the sole tenant in the Metrodome would cost between $6 million and $10 million a year. As the University currently earns less than $6 million annually at the Metrodome, a significant public subsidy would be required to fund the annual operating costs and the capital improvements needed to modernize the aging facility. Last year, the Vikings determined that an on-campus joint facility wouldn't meet their needs, and sharing a professional facility located far from campus is the University's least preferred option.

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