Plan would put stadium near arenas

Branden Peterson

University stadium consultants are considering placing the proposed football stadium on the west end of the Huron Boulevard Parking Complex, said Richard Pfutzenreuter, associate vice president for the Office of Budget and Finance.

The proposed site is next to Mariucci and Williams arenas, Pfutzenreuter said. The site could extend onto property currently occupied by three University buildings on University Avenue Southeast, just south of the Huron Boulevard Parking Complex.

The University’s Holman building, the University Press building and the Poucher building are slated for demolition even if a stadium is not built, University officials said.

The move is logical, University architecture professor Stephen Weeks said, because the closer the facility is to the existing arenas, the easier and cheaper it might be hook up sewer and water utilities.

The site plan is not permanently set, Pfutzenrueter said; designers are simply working on ideas.

Another concern affecting the pre-design plans is pollution.

Pollution investigators located the pollutant creosote in 1997 under the parking lots. Currently the toxin is contained under the lots, and it is unclear how much might need to be removed if a stadium is built, Pfutzenreuter said.

Even with pollution cleanup costs, consultants said a Gophers-only stadium on the site would still cost less than a larger 600,000-square-foot, joint-use facility proposed earlier with the Minnesota Vikings.

According to the pollution report, the toxins are scattered throughout the Huron lots, but that factor has not motivated this idea, Pfutzenreuter said.

“Pollution isn’t driving this,” he said.

Pfutzenreuter said he did not know what pollution agencies require be removed from the proposed site.

Early drawings of the stadium, transportation alterations and other area changes were scheduled to be complete by Nov. 1, but the pollution issue will delay the completion until mid-November, Pfutzenreuter said.

Officials are also considering the stadium’s impact on commuter parking. Some surface parking will remain in the area, officials said, but the stadium would likely occupy space currently used by hundreds of commuters each day.

University design consultants considered adding two parking ramps if the proposed Vikings-Gophers stadium was built. Current plans do not call for added ramp construction, Pfutzenreuter said, although the University hopes to keep the same number of spaces available.

Architects will determine if additional parking will be necessary with the stadium, he said.

Football game days would bring thousands of spectators to campus Saturdays in the fall. Weeks said designers might try to encourage mass transit by not providing additional room for parking.