TCF stadium-naming agreement renewed

The stadium cost is estimated at $249 million, but it might increase.

by Lora Pabst

The University’s proposed on-campus football stadium is still waiting for legislative approval, but private donors are committed to the project.

Over winter break, the University renewed the $35 million stadium naming rights agreement with TCF Financial, which expired at the end of 2005.

University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said both parties agreed to a June 30, 2006, extension. The contract extension gives the University more time to secure legislative approval and funding for the stadium.

The current estimated cost for the stadium is $249 million, but if legislative approval is postponed, the cost will continue to increase with inflation.

Pfutzenreuter said officials from TCF were “very cooperative and supportive” during the renegotiation process.

“If we would have lost the contract, we would have lost a lot of momentum on the stadium,” he said.

Now the University can focus on securing approval in the next legislative session, which begins in March. Pfutzenreuter said University officials will continue talking with Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders to secure support for the stadium project.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said the contract extension gives the state Legislature more time “to do its job.”

“The original intention of (the University and TCF Financial agreement) was that the state’s commitment to the University’s project would have been in place before now,” Rotenberg said. “That hasn’t happened, but we’re still hopeful that can be achieved.”

The University is proposing a funding plan that would require the state to pay 40 percent of the total stadium cost. The University would pay the remaining 60 percent with corporate and private donations and revenue from future stadium operations.

“The longer we wait, the higher the costs are,” Rotenberg said. “We don’t want to drag this out and incur more expenses. Delay does not add value, it only adds cost.”

Jason Korstange, a spokesman for TCF, said Lynn Nagorske, TCF’s new chief executive, was “the driving force” in granting an extension to the University.

“When we made the decision last year to do this, it was not a decision we made lightly,” Korstange said. “So it wasn’t a terribly difficult decision to extend it once we realized that the Legislature wasn’t going to do anything at that point.”

The stadium bill has earned support from the governor and legislative leaders in the past. University officials have expressed concern that the bill might get stalled in the legislature this year because of election-year political wrangling.

The University is continuing work on the stadium project, but without legislative funding, it will be unable to progress much further.

If the Legislature doesn’t deal with the stadium bill until March, the University will have another corporate sponsorship contract to renegotiate. Best Buy’s

$2.5 million sponsorship deal expires Feb. 15, but a spokesperson for the company said it likely will renew the agreement.