U expands PR campaign

As students enter the East Bank recreation center, a table furnished with information about an on-campus football stadium greets them.

A fact sheet answering frequently asked questions and a promotional bookmark are intended to educate students and garner support for a stadium.

The University is using these materials and its stadium Web site in an expanded campaign to promote an on-campus, Gophers-only football stadium as state legislators prepare to debate the topic next week.

“I think we need to make sure we educate our public,” Athletics Director Joel Maturi said. “The political system is such that it doesn’t just happen because it makes sense.”

The athletics department, president’s office, Alumni Association and University of Minnesota Foundation are collaborating on the effort to draw more attention to the stadium debate.

The University must build grassroots stadium support to make the plan a reality, Maturi said.

“We need to energize the grassroots people in the state of Minnesota,” he said, “because I believe that’s who’s really going to build this stadium ultimately and who the stadium’s going to be for long-term.”

Maturi has sent outlines for stadium plans to football season-ticket holders and has been meeting with groups interested in the stadium efforts, including potential donors.

Vice President for University Relations Sandra Gardebring said the University is focusing its public relations efforts on the Web site.

“The first thing we’re doing is trying to use some electronic communications,” she said. “Those are the easiest and the cheapest.”

The University has spent approximately $25,000 on the promotional campaign so far, largely for printing and postage costs, Gardebring said. The Alumni Association pledged $1 million to the stadium campaign, some of which will be used to reimburse the promotional spending, she said.

As part of the Web site, supporters can subscribe to an e-mail list that offers stadium updates. Approximately 3,500 people have registered, Gardebring said.

The University has only sent two or three e-mails so far, she said, but plans to use the mailing list more frequently as a stadium vote approaches at the Capitol.

Gardebring said she hopes that as people become more

educated about the stadium issue, they will become more supportive.

The Alumni Association has sent stadium information to all of its approximately 60,000 dues-paying members, asking them to contact their state legislators, executive director Margaret Carlson said.

The association is also directing its members to sign up on the University’s stadium Web site, she said.

“I think the whole University is involved in a seamless effort,” Carlson said. “The organizations that have to deliver the people and the enthusiasm for the stadium have stepped up to the line.”