Gopher shuttle helps students attend U football games

Maggie Hessel-Mial

On any given Gophers football game day, students can be found, awash in maroon and gold, lining up to take the free shuttle to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.

The shuttle, sponsored by the men’s athletics department, began running in 1982 when the team moved its home games from the old Memorial Stadium – where the Gateway Center now stands- to the Metrodome.

“We want the games to be fun and easy to get to,” said Deborah Diamond, marketing coordinator for men’s athletics. “We don’t want it to be a chore to get to the game.”

The shuttle runs for three hours before games and two hours afterward to transport fans. Ridership reached a record of 8,129 last October for the Homecoming game, said Roger Huss, operations supervisor for the shuttle. That game represented a 13.5 percent jump from the previous year.

Men’s athletics pays $8,000 per game for the service, which, in addition to fans, also transports the mascots, cheerleaders and dance team to events.

“This is an expense that we plan for,” Diamond said. “As long as we play at the Metrodome, we’ll have a shuttle service for students.”

Jodi Boldt, a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts, said she has found the bus system extremely helpful on game days.

“It’s been a great system,” Boldt said. “I wake up and hop on the bus.”

Lora Sweeney, a fellow CLA sophomore, agreed.

“I have to take it because I don’t have a car,” Sweeney said. “There’s no other way.”

Both Sweeney and Boldt, who catch the bus at the Oak Street Parking Ramp, said they would pay for the service if it wasn’t free.

“The costs (of paying for the service) would be less than parking,” Sweeney said. “It’s a good deal.”

In the shuttle’s 19 years of service, Huss said he’s seen few problems with fans getting out of control.

“About 12 years ago there was a student who had been drinking too much who tried to rock the bus, which the bus driver said was scary,” he said. “But, for the most part, it’s a pretty mild-mannered crowd of both students and adults.”

Huss said that he has heard positive feedback about the system.

For more information on the Metrodome shuttle service, calls are encouraged at 651-647-9290.

 

Maggie Hessel-Mial welcomes comments at [email protected]