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Sketch of proposed new stadium

A new stadium would be located on the University's Huron Avenue parking complex, close to existing athletic venues, and have a seating capacity of 50,000.

U gains foothold for on-campus stadium

From eNews, January 27, 2005

The University of Minnesota is one step closer to having its football games played outside and on campus. Both the House and the Senate have now introduced legislation that would give substantial state support for the construction of an on-campus stadium.

The House bill (HF 263) was introduced last week by Reps. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka; Ron Erhardt, R-Edina; Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids; Laura Brod, R-New Prague; and Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington. Its Senate companion (SF 237) was introduced earlier this month by Sens. Geoff Michel, R-Edina; Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy; Dave Gaither, R-Plymouth; Sharon Marko, DFL-Cottage Grove; and Dave Senjem, R-Rochester.

University leaders, including President Bob Bruininks, were excited about the legislation being introduced. "If the comments by the authors are any indication, we're encouraged by this broad, bipartisan support to bring Gopher football back to campus," says Bruininks. "We're confident that this legislation will be a catalyst for our fundraising efforts."

The legislation calls for the University to fund 60 percent of the overall cost of the project and for the state to fund the remaining 40 percent by providing $7 million annually to pay the debt service on bonds issued by the University.

This legislation, if passed, does not interfere with the University's current capital or biennial budget requests. Funds would be required from the state no earlier than July 1, 2007, and not before the University has secured its 60 percent share of the cost.

The University's portion of the funding will be raised through corporate sponsorships, private donations, student fees, parking, and other game-day revenues. The proposed stadium's estimated cost is $235 million, and it would be completed by 2008.

"Over the past six months, we have been in conversations with prospective donors and sponsors," Bruininks says. "We're very optimistic that we will be able to secure our share of the cost of the stadium."

The University is seeking support for an on-campus stadium for several reasons: The Gopher lease with the Metrodome expires in 2011; the Minnesota Twins and Vikings are pursuing other homes; the Metrodome itself is in need of extensive renovation; and the University stadium would generate an estimated $3.5 million a year more in revenue than the Metrodome does.

Unlike 22 years ago, when the Gopher football team moved to the Metrodome, today more than 70 percent of freshman students live on or near campus, making a campus stadium even more attractive to them, says Athletics Director Joel Maturi.

"The Gophers have played football in Minnesota for 120 years, and these legislators recognize that the time is right for bringing Gopher football back to campus," he says. "This will be a place for students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the public to come together and experience Big Ten football where it was meant to be--on campus."

For more information, see Gopher stadium.

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