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Football Saturdays are just around the corner


With each tick of the clock, there seems to be an uptick in activity surrounding the new stadium

By Rick Moore

Game Day Image


August 19, 2009

If you were to look at the countdown clock on the TCF Bank Stadium Web site at exactly noon on August 19, the display would read 24:06:00:00. That’s just 24 and a quarter days away in countdown-clock time.

With each tick of the clock, there seems to be an uptick in activity surrounding the new stadium. Monday saw the dedication of the Tribal Nations Plaza outside the main western entrance to the stadium. The plaza, made possible by a gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, features an arc of 18-foot-tall sky markers that honor each of Minnesota’s 11 tribal communities.

On September 11, the eve of the first game, the University will dedicate the Veterans Memorial, also at the western entrance to the stadium. The tribute will feature a WWI airplane flyover, color guards, entertainment, and the historic first raising of the American flag over the stadium.

Then on the following day the Minnesota Golden Gophers will take on the Air Force Falcons at 6 p.m. in the first football game on campus since Nov. 21, 1981.

And with that, the campus will have undergone a transformation from a place of autumnal serenity on football Saturdays to a place filled with hustle and bustle, peanuts and popcorn, tailgating and cheering.

Whether you’re a football fanatic or a U staffer wondering how to navigate campus, here are some things you may wish to know about the game-day experience.

Information is just a click away
The U’s Gopher Gameday Web site is your one-stop shop for all things TCF Bank Stadium. The site includes stadium maps, a printable Gopher Fan Guide, guides to Minnesota traditions and sportsmanship, and information about tailgating, dining, and lodging.

A dress rehearsal for everyone

There are three chances to check out the new stadium before September 12.

• If you’re a season ticket holder, you can attend a special Gopher football scrimmage on August 22 at 3 p.m. Parking lots will open at noon and close one hour after the scrimmage. For more information, see Stadium Special Events.

Celebrate U! For Twin Cities campus staff and faculty members who have been past the stadium scores of times but haven’t yet been inside, here’s your chance. The University will host Celebrate U!, a faculty and staff appreciation day, August 25 from 2-6 p.m. There will be tours, free stadium food, a brief program, and much more.

• Returning students will also have a sneak preview. They can check out the Gophers’ opening game on the road against Syracuse in an exclusive student-only viewing party at the stadium. The student gates will open at 10:30 a.m. on September 5.

Nurturing young minds
Children ages 6 to 12 of parents who are attending the game can enjoy a special “camp” only blocks away at U’s Bell Museum of Natural History’s Gopher Nature Academy. Each week, kids will learn a new craft, watch an animal movie while snacking on pizza, tour museum exhibits, and learn about animal behavior through games and structured age-appropriate play. Cost is $35 per child per game; registration is required one week prior to game day. For more information, visit the Bell.

Other activities on campus 
While 2009 University Avenue (the official address for the new stadium) will be the focal point for cheers, the game-day excitement will reverberate from Stadium Village to Dinkytown… and especially on campus. Make sure you check out these old and new traditions:

The Pre-game Party at McNamara Plaza
The festivities begin three hours prior to kickoff and will include food and beverages, music, and appearances by the spirit squads, Goldy, and other special guests. Elsewhere on the plaza you’ll find activities for the whole family, including interactive games.

The Gopher Victory Walk

Two hours before each game, greet the Gopher players and coaches as they exit their team buses at the McNamara Alumni Center Plaza and walk across Oak Street to the stadium. Join the University of Minnesota Marching Band, the spirit squads, Goldy and your fellow fans to form a tunnel of maroon and gold to show the way.

The Marching Band Pre-game Show
The University of Minnesota Marching Band, aka "The Pride of Minnesota," will perform its traditional pre-game show one hour before kickoff on the plaza near the Benton County marker (on the south side of the stadium).

Game Day at the Campus Club
The Campus Club, located on the fourth floor of Coffman Union with arresting views of Northrop Mall and the downtown Minneapolis skyline, is bringing back game day in style for both members and non-members. For more information, visit the Campus Club.

Also open on game day:
Weisman Art Museum 
Coffman Memorial Union 
U Recreation Center 
U Libraries