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A rendering of the new football stadium looking west, with the downtown Minneapolis skyline in the background

The football stadium will anchor the East Gateway District, the name being used to describe the area of new development at the east end of the Twin Cities campus. The district will house up to 10 major academic buildings, two new parking structures, and a hub for mass transit.

Designing a new campus landmark

By Rick Moore

From M, spring 2007

The planned new Gopher football stadium is beginning to take shape--and that shape will be a traditional collegiate horseshoe opening westward to the University of Minnesota campus and the downtown Minneapolis skyline.

In January, after hearing details from University officials and a representative of the architectural team, the U's Board of Regents approved the schematic designs for TCF Bank Stadium as well as its revised budget, now $288.5 million. The stadium is scheduled to open in fall 2009.

"I think this design captures the character and the tradition of our campus," says President Bob Bruininks. "We want [TCF Bank Stadium] to be one of the more memorable venues in college football."

The design calls for a 50,000-seat facility that can expand to 72,000 or 80,000 seats and is meant to have a collegiate look and feel, says Scott Radecic, senior principal architect with HOK Sport.

To that end, the stadium will be a "single rake" bowl, without the multiple decks and overhangs of many professional stadiums. The exterior will recall the old Memorial Stadium, including its brick arches, and will be ringed by a colonnade.

Fan will like the 19-inch seats, 33-inch spaces between rows, and 45 to 60-foot corridors--much wider than the Metrodome's 24-foot corridors.

University officials based the updated cost on changes to enhance the fan experience, improve campus aesthetics, and incorporate sustainable or "green" architecture designs. Other cost increases have come from recent changes to the building code and engineering challenges due to the type of soil on the site.

Bruininks stresses that the extra $39.8 million will not come from taxpayers or students or at the expense of the University's academic mission. Instead, the U will use a combination of financing tools and increased athletics revenue resulting from the new venue.

The design unveiling has also renewed stadium fund-raising. Over half the $86.5 million goal has been met through gifts, pledges, and sponsorships from individuals and corporations. Since the commitments from TCF Bank and the state of Minnesota, recent gifts of $1 million or more from companies like Best Buy, Target, and the General Mills Foundation, plus gifts from individual donors, have pushed fund-raising beyond the halfway mark. "Alumni and friends have shown overwhelming support for this new campus landmark," says Bruininks. "It has been doubly gratifying to see many donors taking the opportunity to contribute to academic areas as well."

Changing the porcelain percentages

While the new football stadium promises to have a "traditional collegiate look and feel," don't expect the traditional lines outside of the women's restrooms.

Minnesota law mandates that all new stadiums, arenas, concert halls, etc., must provide three female bathroom stalls for every two male bathroom stalls or urinals. Part of the "potty parity" movement, such laws are welcome news for the generations of women who have endured long lines at stadiums while waves of men did their business and still had time to buy another round of lemonade.

The new stadium design calls for approximately 400 women's water closets and roughly 280 men's fixtures (200 urinals; 80 stalls), according to Myron Chase, an associate for HOK Sport. Men can take heart, too, as there will be individual urinals rather than the urinal troughs at the Metrodome.

"Ironically enough, HOK standards [for potty parity] exceed what the Minnesota code requires," says Chase, whose firm has designed a number of sports stadiums and arenas in recent years. "Based on our past experience, we know what we should shoot for." Its about time.

Click for more information on the stadium.