Dyer says students oppose fees for stadium

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said students might support paying for a stadium if it is used for more than football.

Branden Peterson

Students are unlikely to support fee increases to pay for a proposed Gophers-only football stadium, Minnesota Student Association President Eric Dyer said Tuesday.

University administrators pitched the idea of using student fees to support the stadium at a Sept. 16 MSA meeting.

Dyer said based on conversations with students, a student referendum to support the stadium would likely fail.

Until the stadium plans are complete, it is difficult to estimate how much students will be asked to contribute, Dyer said. For example, a $100 million stadium will likely require less student support than a $200 million facility, he said.

Dyer said students could contribute in several ways. However, most universities that build stadiums assess fees to students over a number of years, he said.

It might be a tough sell to students, but students will warm up to the idea if they look to the future, Dyer said.

“I think students should be open-minded. The benefits Ö could far outweigh the negatives,” he said.

First-year mathematics student David Angeli said the stadium discussion is exciting, but he does not want to help pay for a stadium, even if it becomes profitable for the University.

“By the time they start getting a profit, I’ll be gone,” he said.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said he believes students might be more in favor of paying fees if they see the facility as multi-functional.

A new stadium would not be just for the football team, Maturi said. The stadium could hold graduation ceremonies, the marching band and recreational sports, he said.

“This would be a win-win situation for students,” Maturi said. But if students are going to add funds, “we have to make it a good idea,” he said.

University officials said they do not know if they will need student funding, nor do they know how much the facility will cost.

Stadium finance expert Bruce Johnson, a professor at Centre College in Danville, Ky., said universities can approach students for funding in various ways.

Students might not have to pay a fee, but instead money could be displaced from academic programming, Johnson said.

Robert Jones, vice president for faculty and academic programs, said it is too early to know whether students would help pay for a stadium or how. If they do, the process might be similar to the mandatory payment system set up for the Coffman Union renovation, he said.

In October 2001, The Minnesota Daily reported student fees would account for $37.5 million of the Coffman Union renovation. The University’s Student Services Fees Committee increased fees for students in a four-year “phased in” approach.

From 2001-02, students were to pay $85 each for that year’s renovation. The fee was to increase to $95.50 for 2002-03 and $91 for every year after that until 2021.

When considering the renovation to Coffman Union, animal science junior Stefanie Clay said the popular student spot on campus serves a purpose for all students.

“It’s kind of a ‘one-stop’ place (for everyone),” she said. A stadium would not likely serve as many students, and it makes her question whether to support a football facility, Clay said.