TCF banks on U’s campus stadium

Than Tibbetts

Come August 2008, University President Bob Bruininks said, he hopes to welcome students to a newly constructed TCF Bank Stadium.

Bruininks and officials from TCF Financial Corp. officially announced an agreement Thursday at the McNamara Alumni Center to make the company the lead naming sponsor of a proposed $235 million on-campus stadium.

The deal is the largest corporate sponsorship in the University’s history.

Under the agreement, TCF Financial Corp. will pay the University $35 million during 25 years. In exchange, the complex will be named TCF Bank Stadium.

The Board of Regents needs to approve the deal in April before it becomes official.

Not everyone expressed enthusiasm with TCF Financial Corp.’s sponsorship of the stadium.

Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, delivered a statement at the press conference criticizing TCF Financial Corp. as having an “anti-government attitude that has contributed to a lack of public investment” in the University.

Pogemiller is co-author of a defunct version of a Gophers stadium bill in the Senate.

“Selling naming rights to this company is outrageous,” he said. “This is simply about buying advertising – and at a very low price at that.”

Bruininks responded by saying the timing of Pogemiller’s statement was “curious” and its expression was “rude.”

Ryan Frailich, a strategic communications junior, said corporate sponsorship is inevitable.

“TCF is a local company,” he said. “And I can’t think of a better company.”

Frailich founded Goldy’s Groundbreaking Crew, an 80-member student group working to educate students and community members about on-campus stadium issues, he said.

TCF Financial Corp., which is based in Wayzata, Minn., also agreed to extend its U Card agreement with the University and will have the right to offer a debit card to University alumni and athletics supporters. Both agreements last through 2013.

The revenues from these agreements will go toward student programs, scholarships and nonstadium projects.

“TCF is proud to make this investment,” said Bill Cooper, the company’s chief executive officer. “TCF has been a big supporter of education for a long time.”

Bruininks said the announcement will “jump-start” the University’s ability to raise more money.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi also emphasized the momentum the announcement gives the University.

“We are confident that today’s announcement will allow us to be successful at the (Legislature) as well,” he said.

Maturi said there are corporations that were waiting for the TCF Financial Corp. announcement before committing to a sponsorship. The University also has some million-dollar commitments, he said.

University officials estimated the current and newly signed contracts will produce $95 million in revenue for the University.

If the University receives enough money, construction will begin in summer 2006.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty congratulated the University and TCF Financial Corp. in a statement Thursday.

“Bill Cooper has thrown a $35 million pass to President Bruininks,” Pawlenty said. “Now, it’s up to the ‘U,’ its private donors and the state to get the ball down the field and into the end zone so we can return Gopher football to campus.”