Got milk? U athletics landsdairy sponsor

by Michael Rand

The topic of conversation produced a one-word sentence from Gophers assistant men’s athletics director Pat Forciea: “Milk.”
That was a concise summary of the three-year, $242,500 sponsorship deal agreed to Thursday by the Gophers men’s athletics department and Minnesota-based dairy supplier Land O’Lakes.
The company has paired up with the Gophers on other occasions, but this is the first long-term package between the two parties.
“Partnering with the University is just a good fit,” said Land O’Lakes official Dan Hanson.
The deal is effective immediately. Forciea said there are already Land O’Lakes signs up at Mariucci Arena and Williams Arena.
Future publicity will come from a series of individual promotions for the Gophers football team, ticket packages from the company and a joint health-related program for kids in the state.
Men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart said the money generated from this and all other sponsorship deals goes toward either paying off construction debt from Williams Arena, Mariucci Arena and the Sports Pavilion or helping to subsidize the women’s athletics department.
The revenue from the Land O’Lakes deal is roughly the same as the three-year contract the University agreed to this summer with the St. Paul-based Minnesota Brewing Co. The University said last month it would prematurely terminate its contract with the makers of Grain Belt beer. Officials worried such a relationship sent the wrong message to students.
Forciea estimated that the men’s athletics department will generate sponsorship revenue between $1.5 million and $2 million in 1997-98. He added that the department has deals with 40 to 50 sponsors ranging from gas stations to automakers.
The Land O’Lakes deal came on the heels of Wednesday’s announcement that Midwest Sports Channel agreed to a 10-year contract with the University to broadcast Gophers athletics.
MSC signed its first contract with the University in 1991 and extended that contract in 1995. The channel provides telecasts of Gophers football, men’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and other sports.
In addition to its own telecasts, MSC also recently began broadcasting additional men’s basketball and football games by purchasing the rights from the ESPN-Plus system.
“Their goal is to provide programming and be the home of the Gophers,” Dienhart said. “This rounds out the relationship.”