Alum to raise funds for athletics complex

Lou Nanne will help drum up interest in the $190 million project.

Dane Mizutani

Lou Nanne will lead the Athletic Facilities Fundraising Campaign with hopes of raising the $190 million necessary to fund a multi-sport campus athletics complex, the University of Minnesota announced Monday.

It’s a step forward in the facilities plan that athletics director Norwood Teague unveiled in July.

Nanne, a University alumnus and member of the Gopher Athletic Hall of Fame, was general manager of the Minnesota North Stars and currently works as Senior Managing Director at RBC Global Asset Management, Inc.

Nanne, 72, said he’s grateful for the chance to give back to the University that provided him with “an enormous opportunity” as a student-athlete in the 1960s.

“I’m honored to do it,” he said. “It’s a heck of a challenge, [but] I’m hopeful we can be successful. I know it’s a long, arduous process and it’s always a tough thing to do, but it’s long overdue.”

In addition to heading the fundraising campaign, Nanne will also oversee a new volunteer leadership council designed to meet “the needs of its student-athletes, coaching staffs and athletic programs on a consistent basis,” according to a University athletics release.

“[He was an obvious choice to ask to lead this,” Teague said in the release.

Nanne said Teague and University President Eric Kaler approached him about becoming the head of the fundraising efforts. Nanne said initially he didn’t know if he could commit much time. “They convinced me that I should,” he said. “I want to see it happen, and when I thought hard about it, I thought they were right.”

In July, Teague laid out the plan, which features eight facilities to be built at an expanded Bierman Field complex on 15th Avenue Southeast.

Those new facilities in the plan included a men’s and women’s basketball practice facility, a football complex, a women’s gymnastics facility, an Olympic sport indoor practice facility, an outdoor Olympic sport track, a wrestling training facility, an academic center and a training table dining area. 

Teague said in July the focus of the fundraising efforts would be on athletics donors. Nanne said individual donors will be a big focus, but he hopes to reach out to corporations and foundations as well.

“I think everybody has an interest in the [University] if they’re located in the boundaries of the state,” he said. “We have to reach out to all these different avenues to reach our goal.”

While the $190 million price is intimidating, University donor Jay Mahler said an athletics facility upgrade is essential. And Nanne is a good person to take on the fundraising task, he said.

“I think that any time you can have an individual … of that stature, it would bode well for the fundraising effort,” Mahler said.

Former athletics director Joel Maturi agreed and said Nanne is a “perfect choice” to lead the fundraising efforts.

“He knows the doors that need to be opened, but most importantly, he has the ability to give the message,” Maturi said. “He can do it with passion and understanding, and because of him, it’s an exciting beginning to this significant campaign.”

Teague said in July that he hoped the facilities plan would be finished six to eight years from the start of the fundraising campaign.

That started last week, Nanne said, and he’s optimistic it’ll get done.

“I’m tired of hearing people put the University down as far as its ability to raise money … or its ability to compete,” he said. “I don’t want to hear that anymore. I’m tired of it, and if I can do something about it, I’m going to do it.”