Football stadium underway as logo revealed

The Gophers will play their first game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 12, 2009.

by Tyler Rushmeyer

Painted pavement on the former parking lots adjacent to Williams Arena currently outlines a new era in Gophers football.

And with symbols of a past era serving as a backdrop – trains and grain elevators – another step toward football coming back to campus was taken last Wednesday.

A number of University officials, athletics department staff and representatives from various private enterprises helped reveal the logo for TCF Bank Stadium, the future home of Gophers football, which will host its first contest Sept. 12, 2009.

Athletic director Joel Maturi, sporting a hardhat with the newly revealed logo, said Wednesday’s experience and the ongoing construction of the new stadium was surreal.

“This is a reality of a dream we had years ago,” he said. “Sept. 12, 2009, there will be a kickoff from one of these end zones.”

Sitting across from both Mariucci and Williams arenas, the new stadium will be located at 2009 University Ave. S.E. following its completion.

But even as construction continues uninterrupted, additional fundraising for the estimated $288 million stadium is still needed.

According to football coach Tim Brewster, approximately $26 million in private pledges still needs to be collected, a figure he said he was confident will be reached.

After the unveiling of the logo, Brewster led the gathering to the site of the ceremonious first front-end loader scoop at the stadium site.

“That’s our first, first down,” he said amid cheers from onlookers. “Kind of gives me goose bumps.”

With the dig completed, Brewster took time on the future home sidelines at the 50-yard line to give a brief tour of the field outline, pointing out where the tunnels and student sections would be, among other things.

Brewster stressed the importance of student support for the new on-campus stadium.

“The first thing we do when we run out of that tunnel is to acknowledge our students,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll be 10,000 strong, screaming and welcoming us.”

Mark L. Jeter, TCF Bank Minnesota president, which put forth $35 million for naming rights, said it is important for the University to have football coming back to campus.

A University graduate, Jeter said some of his fondest memories were of on-campus football.

“Personally, it lost its luster when it moved downtown,” he said. “Today is really a proud moment. This new stadium will touch a lot of lives throughout Minnesota.”

With the opening game scheduled to take place in a period of just over two years, questions as to who the first opponent will be remain unanswered.

To the question, Maturi responded “we’re still waiting.”

Whoever the opponent, President Bob Bruininks said Wednesday’s ceremony was another important step in the over four-year process toward the ultimate goal of TCF Bank Stadium.

“This is a great step forward for the University of Minnesota and Gophers athletics,” he said. “This is a place where Minnesota will gather.”