University starts search for next consultant for on-campus stadium

Than Tibbetts

University officials are looking to add another member to the on-campus stadium consultation team.

Officials began the process of finding a consultant who will focus on three areas of the proposed on-campus stadium project: transportation planning and engineering, providing support for the environmental review of the stadium site, and stadium planning and design services.

The proposed $235 million stadium project would be on the site of the Huron Boulevard Parking Complex.

The project would require several roads around the stadium to be improved and widened or realigned. Many of the Huron parking lots’ spots will be moved to the area north and east of the current lots.

The transportation consultant will also perform the parts of the environmental assessment worksheet and environmental impact statement related to the stadium project’s transportation issues.

The road and parking lot construction is expected to begin in spring 2006 if the University and State Legislature approve the stadium project.

University officials said they hope to complete the project in time to open the 2008 football season.

The University is continuing with stadium preparations despite the lack of any major announcements for stadium funding.

However, the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee will hear an on-campus stadium bill Wednesday.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said he hopes action at the Legislature will spur more stadium project contributions.

And legislators and athletics officials have said that when one side makes significant progress, it will be an incentive for the other to act as well.

“Let’s face it, that’s a very important piece of this puzzle,” Maturi said. “Let’s hope they walk the talk, so to speak.”

Although reports have circulated regarding potential corporate naming partners for the stadium, University officials aren’t saying much in specifics.

“We are having discussions with several important corporations here in the Minnesota metropolitan area,” Maturi said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to come to an agreement with somebody in the near future.”

Athletics officials and the Office of the General Counsel have cited an immense amount of paperwork and attention to detail in constructing a major naming sponsorship.

Officials said they noted South Dakota banker T. Denny Sanford’s ill-fated attempt to donate $35 million to a new stadium in 2003 as motivation to ensure the terms of the deal are clear.

The initial excitement of Sanford’s gift soon gave way to frustration as University officials learned Sanford wanted naming rights and would only donate the money upon the stadium’s completion.