U officialscontemplate stadium fee

Proposed benefits include lower football season ticket prices and a student plaza.

by Than Tibbetts

As University officials work out the details of a student fee to help pay for a proposed on-campus stadium, some in the University are concerned about how the fee will be assessed.

Stadium project officials estimate the fee will pay for approximately $50 million of the stadium’s estimated $235 million total cost. The fee would be capped at $50 per student per semester.

Although University officials do not have a final plan in place, attaching the stadium fee to the University Fee is one option.

Some University departments and graduate students said they were leery of this plan because some departments pick up the tab for graduate assistants as part of their tuition waiver.

“This is a concern of mine,” said Scot Adams, director of graduate students for the mathematics department, “unless they changed some policies so that somehow the entire University Fee weren’t covered from the math department.”

Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer, said the stadium fee is not intended to be assessed to college departments.

“We’re still talking to students about this, still talking to the faculty, still talking to the president,” he said. “It’s more likely to be a stand-alone (fee), on its own.”

The Council of Graduate Students passed a resolution in February stating it will “vehemently oppose plans that rely upon any students’ fees” being used for the stadium project.

University officials recently presented a draft version of the student-benefits package that will coincide with the stadium fee.

The proposed benefits include lower football season-ticket prices, a special student entrance or plaza and a Goldy’s VIP card that would offer discounts at local businesses and admission to all general-admission sports.

Also on the table is the potential for additional availability of tickets for concerts or other events in the stadium and the possibility of a portion of concessions proceeds to be used for student groups.

The student fee will be phased in between fall 2006 and fall 2008.

Lynn Holleran, associate to the University Office of the President, said the intention is to have students pay the $50 per semester stadium fee.

“We’re still working on that, like we are with the (benefits) package itself,” she said. “I think there was misinformation out there that we were just going to assess a fee and there wouldn’t be any benefit directly associated with it.”

Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about the stadium project at 7:30 p.m. today in Coffman Union’s Mississippi Room.

Holleran will join Athletics Director Joel Maturi and Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, author of the Senate stadium bill, to answer questions and hear students’ opinions about the stadium project.

The student group known as Goldy’s Groundbreaking Crew is hosting the event.