U balks at stadium donor’s terms

University President Bob Bruininks called the conditions of the $35 million pledge unacceptable.

Branden Peterson

University President Bob Bruininks said Monday if T. Denny Sanford does not change the conditions of his $35 million donation toward an on-campus football stadium, he will recommend that the Board of Regents reject the offer.

Calling Sanford’s current donation stipulations “unacceptable,” Bruininks said both sides continue to negotiate.

At the press conference announcing the donation, Sanford said

the University must match his gift. Bruininks said the institution would have to raise the money through private donations. Bruininks also said Sanford wants the stadium named for him.

On Saturday, Sanford said he does not want to donate his $35 million pledge toward an on-campus stadium until the completion of the facility.

The University and Sanford are negotiating the terms of the donation.

On Monday, Sanford said he did not know how well negotiations are going.

“Whether they reach an agreement Ö I think both sides want this to happen,” he said.

Sanford said he has no comment on whether he is willing to remove the conditions.

Sanford said his condition – to donate the funds to the University after a stadium is constructed – is in his best interest.

He said he wants a guarantee the stadium will be completed and not have an underfunded facility sitting as an “empty skeleton.” He does not want the University to seek more money from him to finish a stadium.

Regents Chairman David Metzen said the board typically follows the president’s recommendations. It would be “very unusual” for the board to approve matters without Bruininks’ consent, he said.

“If the president isn’t going to be comfortable, that’s going to be huge,” Metzen said about the recommendation.

The board has the final say whether to accept donations. Metzen said regents get frequent updates on stadium negotiations from Bruininks; however, the next board meeting is Oct. 9-10.

When the University discussed building a new stadium with the Minnesota Vikings last year, regents outlined several principles for the University to follow in the development process.

Several regents, including Metzen, are currently developing similar guidelines for the fund-raising and development process toward a Gophers-only stadium, he said.

Since announcing his gift, Sanford has worked with University representatives daily toward the development of a new home for Gophers football.

Last week, he used his jet to fly with several University representatives to tour other college football stadiums. On Saturday, Sanford traveled to Ohio to watch the Gophers in a nonconference game.

His proposed donation led Bruininks to lift a fund-raising ban on football and women’s rowing

facilities, paving the way for more boosters to offer donations.

The University of Minnesota Foundation and the athletics department are still developing formalized fund-raising plans for a stadium.

University officials have not released stadium cost estimates but said the facility would be built on the parking lots near the Mariucci and Williams arenas.