Fundraising and construction move forward

Jake Grovum

As students return to campus this fall, the footprint of what will be the TCF Bank Stadium is beginning to take shape.

While construction crews continue work at the site, the University’s team of fundraisers has been drumming up financial support for the project.

The financial plans for the stadium call on the University to raise $86.5 million in sponsorships and donations, University spokesman Dan Wolter said. The University has raised just over $60 million so far and has less than $25 million left to locate.

Fundraising and construction for the stadium is on track to meet the stadium’s opening date of Sept. 12, 2009, University officials said.

Phases of Fundraising

The “vast majority” of the money already raised by the University came from the “mega-donor” phase of fundraising, Wolter said. This includes $21 million from TCF Bank for the naming rights of the stadium.

on the web

For construction updates, webcams of where the stadium is being built and other information regarding the stadium, go to: www.umn.edu/stadium

The first phase of fundraising, dubbed the “legends level” for gifts more than $1 million to the University, included corporate donations, groups – such as the Alumni Association – and individuals, associate athletics director Phil Esten said.

Although phase one is complete, there are other donations in the “legends level” officials are working to secure, Wolter said.

The second phase is called the “champions level,” in which the University has enlisted the help of 50 to 60 fundraising captains to each give or raise $100,000 for the stadium, Esten said.

He expects $5 million to $6 million to be raised in the second phase.

“That’s going to come from a variety of different areas,” Esten said. “We’re really relying on our volunteers; we’ve got a strong leadership group with our four chairs.”

With the increased manpower of phase two, the fundraising tactics of the University are breaking new ground, Esten said.

“They’re helping us spread into the community to places we couldn’t get Ö there’s power in the numbers,” he said. “I think this is kind of an innovative thing for the stadium campaign.”

The 50 to 60 captains of “champions level” fundraising are headed by eight chairmen and chairwomen, one of whom is “Back to Campus” stadium campaign co-chairman John Lindahl.

“We’re now getting organized to the point of getting names from that group of people,” Lindahl said. “That really is now in the preliminary stages; calls are being made and success is starting to get generated.”

Lindahl expects phase two to generate $10 million for the stadium fund.

Phase two will continue on and officials expect the third and final phase of fundraising to begin early next year, Wolter said.

“The grassroots phase Ö will be probably the highest-visibility one,” Wolter said. “The Alumni Association will be actively engaged in that, and that last phase will target every county in Minnesota.”

The final phase will be a lower level of fundraising compared to the first two phases, Wolter said.

With stadium discussions concerning the University, the Twins and Vikings taking place across Minnesota, Wolter said the University’s fundraising campaign has been successful so far.

“Of all the stadium discussions in the state, this is the one where people actually have an opportunity to give gifts to,” Wolter said. “If we were competing with the Twins for private sector fundraising dollars it might be a different scenario.”

Construction Continues

Construction crews have begun to place 2,200 supports that are “like the legs to a table,” Brian Swanson, stadium project coordinator, said.

Once the supports are in place, crews will begin to pour concrete on top, which will be complete come January.

“That’s like the top of the table,” Swanson said. “Starting in January you’ll start to so see things come out of the ground.”

With a Minnesota winter on the horizon, Swanson doesn’t expect weather to be a factor in the construction of the stadium.

“They’ve known winter is going to come along (and) they’ve planned for it,” he said. “Their schedule takes into account seasons and everything else, so (stadium contractor) Mortenson is right where they need to be.”