Pregame kickoff event garners support for stadium

Touchdown on Campus held a similar event that was not aimed to drum up support for an on-campus stadium.

Brady Averill

University President Bob Bruininks directed the University marching band Saturday evening in “the Minnesota Rouser” for a pregame Gophers football event.

The groundbreaking crew and Touchdown on Campus groups organized events to get students and others excited about an on-campus stadium.

In the four-dorm area known as the superblock, hundreds of students gathered to rally for an on-campus stadium, said James Snodgrass, graduate student and co-chairman of the groundbreaking crew.

The crew gave out free maroon-and-gold garb and food, and former Gophers football player Marion Barber Jr. made an appearance.

It is “precisely the kind of day you want to have an outside football game,” Snodgrass said.

“We’re about to go into a dome right now,” he said.

The group received money from grants to pay for the event, he said. They want to raise awareness about the benefits of an on-campus stadium.

The event targeted a heavily student-populated area because “an on-campus stadium affects the students,” Snodgrass said.

At the event, students could sign up to support an on-campus stadium and join the crew, he said.

Just down the road, hundreds of fans sporting maroon and gold filled Coffman Union plaza.

Touchdown on Campus – a group that brings together faculty, staff, students, fans and the general public for Gophers football festivities – organized the event.

The goal of the festivities is to “bring people to campus before football games,” said Perry Leo, chairman of the University Senate Advisory Committee on Campus/Community Relations.

“We’d like to get everyone out here before the game, but we’re happy with who comes,” he said.

First-year student Mike Brudevold said he couldn’t resist the advertisement for free food, so he showed up for pre-game festivities.

Touchdown on Campus advocates an on-campus stadium, he said. However, events are not organized to rally for one, he said.

Bruininks and Athletics Director Joel Maturi spoke briefly about bringing a stadium to campus. Both have said they are strong advocates of having one.

“I think President Bruininks alluded to a dream we all have,” Maturi said.

But not everyone shares that dream. Ann and Paul Kroll, who came to listen to the band, said they don’t think an on-campus stadium is a good idea.

Ann Kroll, a graduate student, said she doesn’t want to see an on-campus stadium. The Metrodome is sufficient, she said.

Paul Kroll said, “It’s a waste of money really.”

“They’ll like it when it’s warm, but not when it gets cold,” Ann Kroll said.

First-year student Aaron Lingwall, who attended the groundbreaking crew and Touchdown on Campus events, said he thinks it is necessary to have an on-campus stadium.

“I’m sure there are some opposed to it, but I think there are a lot who want their football on campus,” he said.