U ponders fees hike for stadium

A University official said each student might be billed as much as $125 more per semester.

Students will not pay more student fees next year for an on-campus football stadium, Minnesota Student Association President Eric Dyer said Tuesday in his State of the Student Body Address.

Dyer said the University needs more time to explore other funding options before student fees can be addressed.

“We’re seeing how it’s going to go in the State Legislature,” Dyer said in an interview. “We’re also really trying to drum up alumni support and see exactly what kind of donations are available from the outside community first.”

Dyer said he is still confident a stadium will be built.

“MSA will bring students an on-campus football stadium next year,” he said to the MSA Forum.

Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for student affairs, said student fees will not increase for a stadium until groundbreaking.

Preliminary discussions have suggested a fees increase of $25 to $125 per semester, Rinehart said.

Lynn Holleran, associate to the vice president and chief of staff, said the University is meeting with student groups about fees increases, but it is too early to discuss specifics.

“We’re not going to talk to students about a model until we have other pieces of the puzzle in place,” Holleran said. “It wouldn’t be fair, because we don’t have all the information.”

The University will keep student fees “as low as we possibly can,” she said.

Dyer said in an interview that he supports an increase in student fees because it would give students a louder voice in stadium planning.

“If students pay for a certain percentage of this stadium, how is any one single alum or corporation who donates less going to have more say than we have?” Dyer said. “That’s really what paying a student fee would do.”

Rinehart said the University is putting together a benefits package students would receive if they paid increased fees. Benefits could include priority seating at football games and free admission to other athletics events, he said.

If students support a stadium and agree to pay higher fees, it could help the University raise money from outside donors, Rinehart said.

“I think a key element in this is that the public, and particularly donors, are more inclined to help out if there is a strong student presence in this,” he said.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said student fees will be needed to fund a new stadium.

“I believe that we’re going to need some assistance from students for this to come to reality,” he said.

A new stadium could also be used for recreational sports, graduation and career days, Maturi said. But the primary purpose is to create a permanent home for Gophers football.

“We need to build a facility to bring football back to campus for the next hundred years,” Maturi said. “So I’m asking the students, present and future, to have a look at that.”

Maturi said he understands students are reluctant to pay higher student fees as tuition continues to increase.

“I realize every dollar additionally paid is a lot of money, especially when we look at the short term,” he said. “My hope is that students look at the long term.”