New stadium brings fundraising opportunities to student groups

Students will be able to sell concessions at Gopher football games while also publicizing their group.

Registered student groups at the University of Minnesota will have the opportunity to fundraise by selling concessions at TCF Bank Stadium football games this fall. Student group members are enthusiastic about the opportunity, which will provide them with much-needed funds and publicity. Associate Athletics Director Phil Esten said the idea came from student groups themselves when establishing the student fee benefits package. This package was created a couple of years ago by the Student Stadium Advisory Group, a committee made up of representatives from a wide array of student organizations such as the Minnesota Student Association and from residence halls, Esten said. The packageâÄôs purpose is to make sure students personally see benefits from the stadium in return for the $25 annual stadium student fee issued to make up for the $13 million debt the stadium has created. Esten said only students that will be here for the stadium have been paying this fee for the past two years. âÄúThere was an interest from students that they would have an opportunity in the stadium to work concessions that could possibly help fundraise or make money for a certain or specific student organization,âÄù Esten said. âÄúIt was certainly something we were interested in and thought was a great idea.âÄù Actuarial science senior Timmy Nguyen , president of the Vietnamese Student Association , said student group grants do not always cover the groupâÄôs expenses. âÄúEvery year our events are costing more,âÄù he said. The economy is also a reason student groups are appreciative of this new fundraising chance. âÄúItâÄôs great that theyâÄôre presenting us with the opportunity to fundraiseâÄù, said junior Jean Cruz of the Philippine Student Association . While some groups, like NguyenâÄôs and CruzâÄôs, see concessions as a mostly financial opportunity, other groups see it as a chance to publicize. âÄúI think itâÄôs brilliant,âÄù said Benjamin Kutschied , adviser to the UniversityâÄôs Compassionate Action for Animals group. âÄúI think itâÄôll be a good chance to reach out to a crowd we donâÄôt always get a chance to reach out to,âÄù Kutchied said. University Dining Services Director Larry Weger said the student groups will be allowed to publicize themselves at their stand in the form of a sign or banner, although the groups will not be permitted to distribute materials. Leslie Bowman, director of UDS contract administration , said nonprofit groups outside the University will also be able to fundraise at the stadium. Organizers are aiming to get a seven-game commitment requirement for groups that fundraise. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of training involved, and that way youâÄôre not training a hundred different groups for each game,âÄù Bowman said. Weger said the ability to commit to seven games is one of a few important factors in deciding if a student group will be allowed to sell concessions. âÄúThereâÄôs been a lot of groups that have been doing these types of services at the University for quite a few years, so those groups would obviously have some priority over new groups coming in,âÄù Weger said. This priority is significant; according to Weger, UDS has already seen an abundance of interest in the fundraising opportunity. âÄúWeâÄôre pretty much far beyond the ability to accommodate all of them,âÄù Weger said. âÄúThere are more groups than there are opportunities.âÄù Weger said the student groups and nonprofits, as well as any permanent vendors at the stadium, will have to participate in a half day of training, which involves customer service, food handling and safety training. Student groups have been able to fundraise by selling concessions at Williams Arena , the Sports Pavilion , Mariucci Arena and Ridder Arena in the past.