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Students holding Lobby Day banner.

On April 6, students from all campuses rallied for the annual Lobby Day at the State Capital to support U legislation, including efforts to build an on-campus football stadium.

House approves new football stadium for U

By Rick Moore

April 7, 2006

There have been times in the past two years when the vision of a new on-campus football stadium at the University of Minnesota has seemed more a mirage--like a glimpse of Bronco Nagurski walking with his leather helmet out of the Aquatic Center, site of the old Memorial Stadium.

Last night, at the Minnesota Legislature, the dream of on-campus football moved much closer to reality. The House, in a vote of 103-30, passed a bill that would provide state support for half of the cost of a $248 million open-air stadium, which the U hopes to have built by the fall of 2009. The Senate still needs to pass a companion bill for the stadium deal to be sealed. That bill has been approved by the Senate Higher Education Budget Division and is awaiting a hearing in the Finance Committee.

"We're grateful to the House of Representatives for taking the next step to bring Gopher football back to campus," says President Bob Bruininks. "We're grateful to Reps. Abrams, Solberg, Kelliher, and also to Speaker Sviggum for their efforts. The strong vote [last night] gets us to the 50-yard line. Now we're looking to the Senate to get us into the end zone." The stadium legislation found new momentum last week with an amendment that increases the state's contribution to the bond fees from 40 percent to 50 percent. In exchange, the state will acquire--over 25 years--a 2,840-acre tract of land at the U's UMORE Park that will eventually be managed by the state Department of Natural Resources as a nature reserve. That deal was approved by the Board of Regents on March 27 and quickly passed through two committees in the House, setting up last night's vote.

The discussion of the bill lasted for about two and a half hours on the House floor, but in the end, the legislation passed with few changes.

The stadium would be located at the site of the University's Huron Avenue parking complex, just north of University Avenue and east of Oak Street. It would be built with 50,000 seats (and a capacity to expand to 80,000 seats), and would have a collegiate look and feel with a brick facade and two landscaped plazas. Existing, new, and State Fairgrounds satellite parking would accommodate projected game-day requirements of about 17,000 spaces.