Students weigh in on stadium fees

Lora Pabst

Some University students are more worried about their pocketbooks than a potential special session for a new Gophers stadium.

University officials are considering a $50 fee to help fund a stadium. Students would have to pay the fee each semester they attend school. Officials are uncertain when the fee would kick in.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty would have to call a special session to discuss a new Gophers stadium before any decisions can be made about student fees.

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly has publicly opposed using student fees to pay for a new stadium.

Karen Buhr, GAPSA president, reaffirmed the resolution the group passed last week. They have requested that if the fee is approved, graduate and professional students be exempt.

“Graduate and professional students, as a whole, don’t use the stadium that much,” she said.

Buhr said the 13-12 GAPSA vote on the subject shows how controversial the issue is.

“Some people feel really strongly against the fee, but other people feel we pay fees for other things we don’t use, therefore we should pay it,” she said. “It’s a very contentious issue.”

The Minnesota Student Association, which represents undergraduate students, supports a fee up to $50 per semester.

Students have varying opinions about the stadium and who should pay for it.

Esun Yang, a first-year music performance student, said she is against using student fees to pay for a stadium.

“College is already expensive,” she said. “Why would we want to add more?”

Nick Giambruno, a marketing junior, said he didn’t want to pay for a stadium he wouldn’t be using.

“It will probably be built after I’m out of here,” he said.

But some students are enthusiastic about the idea of an open-air, on-campus stadium.

Sarah Wigley, a vocal performance senior, said she is willing to pay $50 per semester to see an on-campus stadium.

“It’s imperative to the vitality of school spirit,” she said. “We can’t just say we want it, but we’re not willing to pay for it.”

Joe Livingston, an electrical engineering junior, is a season-ticket holder who attends every game.

“I am in support (of a stadium) as long as student fees are within a reasonable amount,” he said. “They need to be really smart about how they’re going to break up (the fees).”

Livingston was more worried about the increases in tuition than a $50 fee every semester.

“Fifty dollars compared to increasing tuition – people spend more than that on one book,” he said.

Lynn Holleran, associate to the vice president and chief of staff, said University officials are still considering how student fees would be used to pay for a stadium.

University officials have talked to students during the past two years about how a student fee should be applied, she said.

The University proposes paying 60 percent of the estimated $235 million stadium. The other 40 percent would come from the state Legislature, should lawmakers agree to the proposal in a special session.

The University’s portion will come from private donations, sponsorships, stadium parking revenues and student fees, Holleran said.

“It’s still a consideration, but we are modeling $50 per semester,” she said. “That is associated with a student benefits package.”

Proposed student benefits could include reduced admissions to athletic, theater and arts events, as well as discounts at the University Bookstore and restaurants.