Sanford still plans stadium donation

Branden Peterson

Government restrictions imposed last week on United National Holding Corp. – the holding company for T. Denny Sanford’s banks – will not affect his $35 million on-campus football stadium donation offer, the South Dakota banker and University alumnus said Tuesday.

“There is no way that the agreement, that we find to be very favorable, is going to have any effect on my pledge,” Sanford said.

The Federal Reserve Bank announced several restrictions Thursday on the holding company and its two subsidiary banks, First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard.

The government imposed the restrictions, which are written agreements between the companies and the Federal Reserve Bank, as an oversight.

Sanford said there has been no wrongdoing at his banks and called the restrictions “mild.”

He added that the company is the strongest in the industry and can still grow.

Sanford originally said his stadium donation hinged on matching contributions from others, and he later said he would only give his donation after the stadium’s completion.

Two weeks ago, University President Bob Bruininks called Sanford’s terms “unacceptable” while working out the details of the donation.

Terms of the gift are still under negotiations, but Sanford said talks with the University halted temporarily last week while he was vacationing in Italy. He would not comment further on any progress.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Gophers football games have been held at the Metrodome since 1982, but several University officials said the facility is no longer ideal for the team, its fans or for finances.

At the announcement, many said they hoped Sanford’s gift would lead a campaign to bring the games back to campus.

University consultants are completing stadium pre-designs and said they should be finished by November, along with a preliminary cost estimate.

Where the rest of the money for the stadium will come from is unknown. Sanford has said several times he wants the multimillion-dollar facility to be built primarily by private sources, but University officials recently asked the

Minnesota Student Association to look at ways students could contribute.

Formal plans for student contributions have not been announced.

Students, alumni and other donors helped build the former on-campus home for Gophers football, Memorial Stadium, which was demolished in 1992.

That brick stadium cost $650,000 in 1924, and the Gophers played there for more than 60 years.

The proposed new facility is slated to be built in the Huron parking lots on the northeast side of campus, two blocks from Memorial Stadium’s original location.