TCF to sponsor U stadium

The University will officially announce the deal at a press conference today.

Than Tibbetts

TCF Financial Corp. will be the lead sponsor for the proposed $235 million on-campus stadium, Board of Regents Chairman David Metzen said Wednesday.

University President Bob Bruininks and Athletics Director Joel Maturi will officially announce the deal at a press conference at 11 a.m. today at McNamara Alumni Center.

Although University officials have remained tight-lipped about the deal, Metzen confirmed an agreement had been made that would make TCF Financial Corp. the lead sponsor.

In exchange for a reported $35 million sponsorship, TCF Financial Corp. will receive stadium naming rights, possibly for 25 years.

Also on Wednesday, a Senate committee passed a bill that calls for the state to pay 40 percent of the stadium’s cost, approximately $94 million.

The University would pay the remaining $141 million with Student Services Fees, game-day revenues and sponsorships, like the one with TCF Financial Corp.

Jason Korstange, TCF Financial Corp.’s senior vice president and director of corporate communications, said Wednesday afternoon that there was no formal, signed agreement.

“There are many arrangements of meetings taking place currently,” he said. “And TCF hopes to finalize an agreement very soon.”

He added that TCF Financial Corp. is interested in sponsorship because of the publicity, especially in the naming rights.

TCF Financial Corp. has had a relationship with the University since 1995 and is the exclusive bank for students’ U Cards.

The University is also seeking, and might have already signed, smaller sponsors that would receive naming and sponsorship rights to smaller facets of the stadium, such as plazas, locker rooms or seating sections, officials have said.

At the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, alluded to the TCF Financial Corp. announcement.

“This is an exciting day for the University and dare I say an exciting week,” Michel said to open his bill’s hearing. “If you’re hanging around campus tomorrow, you’ll probably see a lot of happy faces.”

The committee later passed the stadium bill, with two senators dissenting.

Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna, said he didn’t agree with the notion a Gophers stadium is a greater priority than stadiums for the Minnesota Twins or Vikings.

Both professional teams have sought the Legislature’s help for years in hopes of building new stadiums in Minnesota.

Other senators expressed concern advertising and stadium sponsors would smother the “tradition and atmosphere” of a college campus stadium.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said he suspected the public would feel uneasy about a sponsored stadium.

“It strikes me as unseemly that the University would have (to use) corporate names,” he said.

Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer, said any sponsorships will be done carefully and consistently.

“We’re not going to turn this stadium into NASCAR,” he said, referring to the abundance of advertisements on race cars.

Pfutzenreuter also said the University does not have a signed agreement with any corporation but needs the state’s commitment soon.

“To stay on schedule, we need to know the state’s commitment is in law,” he said.

University officials are hoping to have the stadium built in time to open the 2008 football season in the new facility.

University student and Senate intern Austin Kerrigan told the committee he would ask the University to use local and traditional companies, such as 3M.

The House is expected to take up the stadium bill in the first week of April. Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka, authored the House version of the bill.

Michel’s bill will likely have to wait until the Senate Finance Committee finishes its work on the state’s budget and bonding bill.

– Angela Gray contributed tothis report.