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A group of Marching Band members, cheerleaders, and U fans

The new stadium will give students a true Big Ten football experience.

On the march

Thanks to donors and volunteers, fund raising for TCF Bank Stadium is progressing toward the goal line

By Steve Anderson

From M, winter 2008

What was once a sea of parking spaces is starting to look like the future home of Gopher football. With much of the groundwork completed, TCF Bank Stadium is taking shape as the countdown continues to the September 12, 2009 inaugural kickoff.

Just passing by the site of the stadium--the third point in a sports facility triangle that also includes basketball's Williams Arena and hockey's Mariucci Arena--offers a sense of what the stadium will mean for the University's campus atmosphere.

For the first time in over two decades, students will enjoy a true Big Ten student experience--one that is expected at a major public university. "Not only will it bring alumni back, but hopefully it will create future alumni who will support their alma mater because of the great memories they had there," explains Susan Augustine, B.S. '77, who along with her husband Scott, B.S. '75, M.D. '79. is a major contributor to the stadium effort.

The stadium plaza will be a place where people will learn not only about the University, but also about our state's rich heritage and history." --President Robert Bruininks

Thanks to the generosity of individual donors and community-minded corporations, fund raising for the stadium continues its march toward the goal line. So far, $73 million has been raised toward the $86 million goal, including 22 gifts of $1 million or more.

Honoring history

Recently, TCF Bank Stadium received its largest gift to date: $10 million from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). SMSC will donate an additional $2.5 million that the University will match to create a $5 million endowment to provide scholarships, with a preference given to American Indian students.

TCF Bank Stadium Fund Raising

Raised to date: $73.5 million

Left to raise: $12.5 million

Gifts of $1 million or more: 23

Largest gift to date: $10 million from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

To recognize the gift, the stadium's largest and most central plaza will be named in honor of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Although design specifics will be unveiled later on, plans for the space will celebrate the history, presence, and cultural contributions of the state's Native Americans.

"We thought it important to support this cause as a way to encourage a better understanding of the history and role of Indians in Minnesota," said Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Chairman Stanley Crooks. "It's good for our tribe, the tribes of Minnesota, and the citizens of Minnesota."

U of M President Robert Bruininks agreed: "The educational aspect of this gift is much broader than the scholarship initiative. The stadium plaza will be a place where people will learn not only about the University, but also about our state's rich heritage and history."

A new phase

Stadium fundraising entered a new phase recently with the launch of a peer-to-peer effort led by nearly 50 "captains" who have volunteered to reach out to alumni and friends to encourage financial support. Each captain has pledged to raise or contribute $100,000.

Another new stadium-related fundraising initiative aims to raise $2.5 million for the marching band, to be split equally between completion of the band's facilities in TCF Bank Stadium and leadership scholarships for band members. The University plans to match private gifts, bringing the total funds for the marching band tied to the new stadium to $5 million.

Presently, the 300-plus members of the band practice in a crowded, dank space in the basement of Northrop Auditorium. "Band members put in up to 500 hours a season," explains marching band director Tim Diem. "Having a home in the new stadium is just giving back to these students what they deserve."

Visit the Web site for the latest on TCF Bank Stadium construction, including live webcam views, and to find out how you can support the effort.