It seems neither the Vikings nor the Twins will play in the Metrodome past 2011. This reality makes a new Gophers football stadium inevitable. The stadium should be on p>campus, built as prudently as possible and funded by all stakeholders.
The Vikings and Twins will play elsewhere in the Twin Cities, the United States, or possibly, in the Twins’ case, not at all. The Metrodome’s rent and upkeep would be too costly for a sole tenant.
Any new stadium should be on campus because this would provide the most benefit. Game days will likely return to the unifying experiences of the pre-Metrodome era, instead of something only part of the University community enjoys.
Students will benefit by exchanging their hikes or bus rides to the Metrodome for a walk through campus, watching the band march down University Avenue, or meeting friends at a cafe or bar. Combined with increased presence of alumni and other fans, the atmosphere could quickly become as vibrant as that of Iowa City, Iowa, or Madison, Wis.
There are, however, hurdles to clear. The current plan proposes a 50,000-seat, single-level stadium located east of Mariucci Arena. While the idea of a simple, well-built stadium makes sense, planners must address residents’ concerns and student parking.
The current price tag is $222 million. This price has risen since the first proposal, and officials must keep the costs as low as possible. The key question is: Who pays for the stadium? The University as a whole, alumni, current students and the public will benefit from a new stadium. As such, all should share the cost.
The University must get most of the funding from private sources with the alumni providing a great deal of those sources. While students might have to contribute, their contribution should be limited and occur in student fees – which the Minnesota Student Association controls – not tuition hikes. Because this is a public institution and there will be indirect public benefits, the state should help in a limited fashion.
In the end, an on-campus football stadium has many hurdles to clear. Though a difficult goal to realize, it is worth the effort.