Regents increase budget for new stadium

Tiff Clements

In hopes of improving the fan experience, the Board of Regents approved a $40 million funding increase to the new TCF Bank Stadium.

The Regents OK’d a plan and budget hike in an 11 to 1 vote in a Jan. 3 meeting, changing the estimated construction costs from $248.7 million to $288.5 million.

Regent Frank Berman cast the only vote against the plans and funding increase.

“The problem I have is in the money,” he said during the meeting. “The debt service is just not justified.”

Berman pointed out the University still has to raise over $36 million to meet its financial obligation as outlined in the stadium’s initial plans.

President Bob Bruininks said he is hopeful that, after seeing the stadium’s plans, private and corporate sponsors will be interested in offering financial support to the project.

Bruininks made it clear in a press conference after the meeting that neither taxpayers nor students will cover the new costs.

“The increase in budget and remaining financial challenges will not be passed on to the state,” he said. “We’re not passing any of this on to students.”

University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said the additional funding will come from a number of sources.

“We have a two-part strategy to finance the $39.8 million increase,” he said.

Pfutzenreuter said $15 to $17 million will come from more efficiently managing the expenses of the project and investing available unspent dollars to earn interest.

Pfutzenreuter said the Intercollegiate Athletic Department will borrow the remaining $23 to $25 million.

Vice President of University Services Kathleen O’Brien said the majority of the funding, approximately $27 million, will cover improvements to the project, such as larger seats.

“We’re putting our money where we can’t put it later,” she said.

The remaining money, approximately $12.8 million, will be used to cover the costs of things like ensuring the building’s design is up to code and compensating for the costs of inflation.

Scott Radecic, a representaive from HOK Sport, one of three firms working on the project’s design, discussed some of the stadium’s design features with the Board.

Radecic said the latest plans feature some changes from previous designs, including helping to maximize available parking on non-game days and switching the stadium’s orientation to an east to west layout to allow for a view of campus and the Minneapolis skyline.

Athletic Director Joel Maturi said in the post-meeting press conference that he had a strong reaction to the plans.

“When they turned the schematic drawing to this color drawing, a chill ran up my back,” he said.

Maturi said he hopes everyone at the University will be able to make use of the new facility with its large meeting and event spaces.

“We’re going to serve the entire campus community,” he said.

The University Marching Band received special consideration in the stadium’s design.

According to Molly Watters, the band’s drum major, architects worked closely with directors and members of the band to ensure the new stadium will meet the musicians’ needs, including rehearsal space, storage and office facilities.

“Right now our faciliites at Northrop are pretty old and aging,” she said. “We were able to work with architects to figure out what would be possible.”

Watters, a political science and sociology junior, said even though she won’t be able to play with the band in the new stadium, many younger members are excited for the new facilities and performing in an open-air stadium.

“It’ll be nice to be able to perform at the new TCF Bank Stadium and keep all of our offices and personal space and uniforms there,” Watters said.

Construction is slated to begin in July and the 50,000 seat stadium is scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 Gopher Football season.