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An artist's rendering of the proposed Gopher Football stadium.

An artist rendering of the on-campus Gopher stadium.

Legislature considers support for Gopher stadium

by Ann Freeman

From eNews, April 29, 2004

As the legislature turns its attention toward stadium requests from the Twins and the Vikings, the University's own request for state support is receiving increased attention. The University is asking the legislature to pass a bill this session to support an on-campus Gopher stadium, which would enhance the University's ability to raise private funds and begin work on the project. On Monday, April 26, the House Taxes Committee responded favorably to the University's stadium proposal. University president Bob Bruininks, vice president Richard Pfutzenreuter, football coach Glen Mason, athletics director Joel Maturi, and Minnesota Student Association president Eric Dyer gave brief presentations about the project's value and its responsible financing plan. "Athletics complements the University's academic mission and priorities," says Maturi. "Bringing Gopher football home is an incredible opportunity to reenergize campus life, strengthen intercollegiate athletics, and bring pride to the state. We need a partnership with the state to make this goal a reality."

Go Gophers!

Now's a good time as any to demonstrate your support for bringing a Gopher stadium back to campus. Sign a petition at www.umn.edu/stadium or contact your legislator to encourage the state to make a commitment to the University this session.

"The legislature has an important role to play in resolving our stadium issue and time is of the essence," says University president Bob Bruininks. "We're proposing to fund-raise a substantial share of the cost and we cannot raise private money without state commitment--we don't need the funding this year, but we do need the commitment."

To locate your legislator, visit the U's district finder.

Last August, the University completed a study that determined a 50,000-seat on-campus stadium is feasible. The University is proposing to raise 60 percent of the cost through non-state funds, including a substantial amount of private support. "Our request for state support of 40 percent of the cost is modest," says Pfutzenreuter. "It translates into $7 million a year, beginning in 2007. But we need that commitment from the state now to leverage our 60 percent share, start work, and stay on schedule. Each year we wait adds another 5 percent to the total cost." 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. Recently, the Minnesota Student Association passed a resolution supporting the project and a student contribution towards its construction. Last year, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association endorsed the project and pledged $1 million to support it. For up-to-date information about this project, see www.umn.edu/stadium.

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