As deadline for Best Buy stadium endorsement goes, U officials expect renewal

University officials said theyre still in talks with Best Buy, which has continued its commitment.

Lora Pabst

University officials are confident Best Buy will not cancel its $2.5 million sponsorship for the proposed on-campus stadium, despite that the initial deal expired Wednesday.

Best Buy pledged the money in September but put an expiration date on it because of its fiscal year end date.

The Universityís plan is to raise 60 percent of the stadiumís $248 million cost with the state contributing 40 percent.

Assistant Athletics Director Phil Esten said the University is continuing talks with Best Buy to ìhammer out all the details” of the contract.

ìTheyíve expressed that they will continue their commitment,” he said. ìTo say their commitment has expired on Feb. 15 is inaccurate.”

University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said he is confident Best Buy will continue its pledge.

ìIím not overly concerned if we donít have a renewal of it on the expiration date,” he said. ìWe got a good relationship coming into this.”

Paula Prahl, vice president of public affairs for Best Buy, said in past interviews that the sponsorship likely will extend beyond the Feb. 15 expiration date.

ìThe intent of the cancellation is not out of a desire to wiggle out of any funding arrangement,” she said. ìWe have to make sure weíre funding things that are actually going to happen.”

The sponsorship is contingent on legislative funding for the stadium project, Prahl said.

Pfutzenreuter said the University cannot do much more to advance stadium plans without securing legislative approval.

ìThe fundamental problem is lack of action at the legislature,” he said. ìUntil they do, itís just going to be tough.”

Best Buy officials have talked to legislative leaders to encourage state funding for the stadium, Prahl said.

Pfutzenreuter said the athletics department is responsible for the Best Buy sponsorship because the dealís sole beneficiary is the stadium.

The Best Buy sponsorship is different from the $35 million TCF Financial naming rights agreement because of its amount and focus.

ìItís much different than the TCF contract, which was extremely explicit,” Esten said.

The discussions are revolving around what type of exposure Best Buy will get at the new stadium, Esten said.

Pfutzenreuter and Esten said they would be interested in securing more money from Best Buy for other areas of the University.

ìWeíre hopeful for more,” Pfutzenreuter said.