Stadium worries heard

by Lora Pabst

The stadium committee for the Board of Regents discussed Wednesday public concerns about the overall impact the proposed on-campus football stadium would have on the surrounding community.

The Board of Regents, the governing body of the University, will vote on the final environmental impact statement in March.

University project coordinator Brian Swanson said most of the concerns were about traffic, parking and noise. He said the University is in a unique situation because of its urban location.

The final draft of the stadium environmental impact statement is scheduled to be published Monday. About 100 additional pages of public comments and the University’s response to each one were added to the second version, Swanson said.

The University released the first draft of the report in October.

Major changes to the final stadium plan include a section on plans to manage student and fan behavior, a time extension for the stadium area advisory group and $800,000 for a neighborhood fund to deal with ongoing stadium issues ” $500,000 of which will establish an endowment for community use.

Kathleen O’Brien, vice president of University services, said the $500,000 will grow over time as it is invested by the University.

“Those funds will be in a University account, but the University will seek the guidance and direction of the stadium advisory committee,” she said.

The money would come from the stadium project budget.

An area of concern for neighborhood residents was the use of the stadium for concerts or other major events.

The University will establish rules for potential concert contracts, including stipulations that concerts must end by 10 p.m. and use special speaker technology to minimize noise.

O’Brien said concerts are not part of the stadium’s business plan.

“We believe that the potential for a large event is fairly remote, but we do have to plan for that eventually,” she said.

Regent David Metzen wanted to make sure the final draft didn’t rule out the possibility of hosting other events. He said the stadium could provide financial opportunities the University “wouldn’t want to pass up.”

Another area in which residents expressed concern was responsibility for enforcing city parking ordinances and managing traffic.

O’Brien said members of the University Police Department have visited other universities to see how they manage crowds.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said the University faces difficulties because there aren’t many stadiums being built in other university communities around the country, so there isn’t a model for officials to follow. He said the University has been diligent in answering the public’s concerns.

“Those people most affected have the better questions,” he said.