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Stadium findings presented to governor's taskforce

by University News Service

From eNews, January 8, 2004

This week, University of Minnesota officials presented recommendations for an on-campus Gopher football stadium to the Governor's Stadium Task Force. The task force, which is charged with making recommendations by early February for Twins baseball and Vikings football facilities, invited the University to present its plans. "This was a great opportunity to explain why we believe bringing Gopher football back to campus is the best option for the University and the state of Minnesota," said Joel Maturi, athletics director. "An on campus stadium will attract more students, fans, alumni and donors, strengthening pride and people's relationships to this great University." During the presentation, Maturi evoked the excitement of marching down University Avenue into the old Memorial stadium on a crisp fall game day. A generation of Minnesotans, he said, has not enjoyed a true Big Ten football experience. In addition to contributing to the collegiate experience and strengthening alumni and fan connections to the University, which contributes to the University's overall strength, Maturi reminded the task force that the University has been playing Division I football in Minnesota for more than a century. "We're not going anywhere, and we shouldn't be taken for granted because of that," he said. Kathleen O'Brien, vice president for University Services, discussed the University's recommendations for an on-campus stadium (see eNews December 18). She called the proposed facility "modern, enduring, but modest." The University projects the cost to be $180 million, with another $42 million needed for site preparations and infrastructure improvements, bringing the total project to an estimated $222 million. University chief financial officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said officials are looking at a variety of funding streams, including a substantial amount of private funding. "Our academic mission remains paramount," he said. "However, we expect an on-campus Gopher stadium will attract large sums of private funding that simply wouldn't come to the University but for this project." Specifically, Pfutzenreuter said the University is exploring financing strategies that include private donations, sponsorships, stadium revenues, student support, and parking revenues. He added that with a project of this size, no single source of funding would be sufficient. "If the University raises 60 or 70 percent of the funding, $6 million annually would cover the debt service and close that funding gap," he said. The University is not including stadium funding in its capital request to the Minnesota legislature this year but will follow the stadium discussions at the capitol during the session. For the latest on a proposed Gopher stadium, see www.umn.edu/stadium.

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