TCF Bank Stadium could be renamed

by Jake Grovum

By the time the first football game is played at TCF Bank Stadium, the project’s namesake might not exist.

With speculation of a possible buyout of TCF Financial Corp. circulating, by fall 2009 Gopher fans could find themselves en route to a stadium bearing a different name.

Last month, Crain’s Chicago Business, a regional trade publication, reported TCF Bank approached a number of companies across the country to make a takeover bid for the Wayzata-based company.

TCF Bank spokesman Jason Korstange said the company does not publicly discuss possible buyouts, but the rumors are nothing new.

“(Crain’s) kicks that up every six to nine months,” he said. “Supposedly (it) has somebody on the inside that knows we’re getting bought; obviously it hasn’t happened as of yet.”

A decline in the company’s stock price over the past few years has fueled buyout rumors, Korstange said.

Despite its difficulties, TCF Bank intends to fulfill its contract with the University, even amid buyout rumors, he said.

“We’d continue to be a Minnesota bank – we’re not leaving, we’re going to stay,” he said. “If we get bought out, that’d be a little different story as to who bought us out, but our intention right now is to fulfill that contract and keep that as TCF Bank Stadium.”

Contractual obligations

While no public announcement or indication of a buyout has been made, the naming agreement contract between the University and TCF Bank includes a portion about possible changes to the stadium name.

Under the agreement, TCF Bank must propose an alternative name proposal, which is subject to “reasonable” University approval.

The University may reject a new name for the stadium if it makes reference to another region, city or state, according to the contract.

The University would also have the right to reject a proposal under the contract if it makes reference to another Division I university or professional athletics team.

Any proposed name that would fall under these categories would be “very problematic” and subject to disapproval, University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said.

“You don’t want to have it announced the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers are playing in Southeast Arizona Stadium when it’s their home game,” he said.

If the stadium name does change, the costs of the new logo’s design, stadium signs and advertising materials could also become an issue.

Under the agreement, the University is required to make any necessary adjustments due to a name change “as quickly as reasonably practical.”

The University is financially responsible for all initial costs involved with TCF Bank Stadium-related advertisements, according to the contract.

Aside from the initial cost, the University would not be financially responsible for additional expenses associated with the change.

If a name change occurs, TCF Bank is responsible for all costs involved with developing a new name and logo along with installation of updated stadium advertisements, according to the contract.

Apart from those costs, TCF Bank is also under contract to fund notices, announcements and media campaigns “reasonably required” to publicize the new name and logo.

Commercial foresight

While the naming agreement includes a number of benefits for TCF Bank, such as a suite in the stadium, the University did not exclude the prospect of a buyout when drawing up the contract.

Officials discussed the possibility of a buyout prior to reaching the naming agreement, Rotenberg said.

University officials wanted the portion about possible name changes to be included, Rotenberg said, although there were those who said it was unnecessary. “There were individuals who said we don’t have to worry about it because TCF will never be sold and so on,” he said.

“We insisted on this section being included in the agreement, and I’m glad it’s there.”