Groups discuss student fees

Students will chip in $23 million to the TCF Bank stadium; they expect payback.

Amber Kispert

Over the course of 25 years, University students will spend a total of $23 million on TCF Bank Stadium through student fees. $13 million of that will be paid up front for construction costs.

But students will receive some compensation for having to spend $25 a year to help pay for the stadium.

Several benefits for students have been discussed among the Minnesota Student Association, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the University.

There are three benefits the stadium committee has established. Cody Mikl, GAPSA representative for the stadium committee, said he is concerned that students are still questioning the benefit for them.

The first benefit on the table for students is implementing a priority use for students at the stadium. A priority use would allow student groups or recreational sports teams to use the stadium anytime University sporting events are not scheduled.

“This is the benefit that makes the most sense,” Mikl said. “The No. 1 limiting factor for participation in rec. sports is there is not enough facility space; there’s overcrowding.”

MSA and GAPSA passed a resolution Wednesday night urging the priority-use scheduling committee to meet so the idea can materialize.

“It’s supposed to be provocative, and it’s supposed to try and spur action,” Mikl said, referring to the joint resolution.

Once the priority-scheduling committee meets, they will establish the schedules for stadium availability.

Another benefit that students will receive will be acquiring the naming rights of the stadium’s student entrance.

Bree Richards, GAPSA Vice President for Student Affairs, said she’s optimistic about the acquisition of the naming rights.

A plan of action for getting students’ input on the entrance name has not been finalized.

“It’s a fairly good benefit because they are selling off naming rights for the other gates for about $1 million,” Richards said.

Mikl is a little less convinced receiving the naming rights for the student entrance is compensation enough for the amount of money students have to spend.

“The students are getting an entrance – it’s a million dollars. Well, we are paying $23 million,” he said. “There’s $22 million left to play with.”

Finally, students will be rewarded with a point system for sporting event tickets, which will be created.

Each time a student buys a ticket to an athletic event, he or she will acquire points that can go toward buying better seats after graduation, Richards said.

Again, Mikl questions exactly how much of an advantage this is for students.

“I don’t really see it as a benefit, I see it as a virtue of the new ticketing systems,” he said. “It’s a good marketing opportunity.”

Mikl also said students realize they might not be getting their money’s worth.

“I still think that there is kind of some tension, and students are not necessarily happy with the benefits that are on the table,” he said. “It’s not a gift to the football program to be able to run their facilities.”

MSA President Emma Olson is working closely with GAPSA and the Student On-Campus Stadium Advisory Committee to ensure students receive benefits.

“We want to make sure that students get the benefits that they deserve,” she said.

When all is said and done, MSA and GAPSA representatives said they feel strongly about the need for students to receive some sort of payoff, since they are paying for the stadium, Richards said.