Protesters should organize for real cause: a stadium

I admire dedication.
I’m a large, jolly fellow. If I was dedicated I could be as svelte as a cross country runner.
I’m a 28-year old senior. If I was dedicated, I wouldn’t be gearing up for my third decade of college.
But even though I’m not the dedication poster boy, I know what dedication is when I see it. So let me introduce you to some dedicated people.
Meet Nettle. She is the 27-year old woman who was arrested Oct. 7 after she spent 10 days in a cottonwood tree along Highway 55.
Nettle, aka Lynette Pritchard, protested the expansion of the controversial highway, and the subsequent loss of numerous trees that Nettle’s group (we’ll call them the tree people) felt were sacred.
Police used a cherry-picker to remove Nettle after another tree person had perched himself on a telephone pole nearby. Nettle’s buddy was using a slingshot to string fishing line to get food to Nettle.
Now meet Matt Bullard. Bullard is the guy that hung himself over the side of the Moos Tower in September. He stayed about 20 floors up for six days to protest the University’s experimental use of animals.
Bullard’s protest ended when he was helped down by the Minneapolis Fire Department. The reason for the termination of the protest was because Bullard couldn’t handle the weather anymore — and he was hungry.
“He was soaking wet and shaking pretty badly,” Brandon Noard said. Noard is a member of an animal rights group (we’ll call them animal people).
Dedicated protesters? Yes. Intelligent, successful protesters? No. And being an unsuccessful protester is sort of like being an impotent sperm donor.
Any good protester knows you have to be able to eat to continue the protest (hunger strikes don’t count).
In the early 1920s, University students began a protest that culminated in $1.6 million dollars of donations used to erect Memorial Stadium and Northrop Auditorium.
The students hung posters around campus with the demand, “Build that stadium!” and “Build that auditorium!” written on them.
They wrote editorials in The Minnesota Daily that challenged students, faculty and alumni to dig deep and be generous with contributions.
And they were.
It took only one month for the movement to amass $655,000 in gifts from the students and the faculty.
Ultimately, $1.6 million of the $2 million dollars it took to build the two buildings came from the movement, and Memorial Stadium opened on Oct. 4, 1924. It served as a memorial to all the Minnesotans who gave their lives in World War I.
The stadium was home for the Gophers until 1982, when the team moved off campus to the Metrodome. The one million bricks and 45 miles of redwood strips that were used to build the seats were in dire need of renovations, so University officials concluded that $10 million was too much to spend on the historic building.
Currently, rumblings for the return of outdoor football on our campus are starting to resonate. Gophers coach Glen Mason recently said, “I’d rather play in a stadium on our own campus, on a Saturday afternoon at 1:30, on a beautiful sunshiny day that’s about 65 degrees — that’s all I want.”
And in a strike-while-the-iron-is-hot-mode, Mason couldn’t pick a better time to commend a stadium push.
But right now, the public has heard pleas for new stadiums more times than it has heard that annoying “Livin’ La Vida Loca” song (side note: I was in rehab with Ricky Martin, but we can talk about that at a different time).
So that’s the next problem. The Twins want a new outdoor stadium. The Vikings want a new stadium. And now the lobbying for a new Gophers stadium is beginning.
Realistically, three new stadiums won’t happen. In fact, there is a better chance of Wisconsin behemoth Ron Dayne winning a limbo contest with the Gophers women’s gymnastic team than three new facilities being built.
Mason’s response to his opposition might be, “If we’re going to take tax dollars and build a new stadium, let’s build one for the Gophers because we’re not going any place.”
With the success of Mason’s rebuilding efforts starting to pay off, excitement is slowly starting to whisk its way into the Metrodome. Against Wisconsin there were 63,000 fans. There already are almost 50,000 tickets sold for this Saturday’s tussle with No. 22 Ohio State. And Minnesota is expecting a sellout for the homecoming game with Purdue on Oct. 30.
What better time to start a good ol’ 1920s-type contribution campaign. It’s high time we start protesting; it’s time to build a little bit of the dedication I sorely lack.
As you may have noticed in my photo as the protest posterboy, I locked myself to the Famous Dave’s rib joint outside the Metrodome — unlike Nettle and Bullard, I have figured out the importance of sustenance in any good protest — to begin the groundswell that I hope will soon become a fund-raising phenomenon.
It is my challenge to the students of the University to show some spirit and pride to work for a new outdoor stadium for the Gophers. Let’s take it to the streets.
But make sure to pack some sandwiches — we might get hungry.

Michael Dougherty covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]