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MINNEAPOLIS-A University of Minnesota study released this week concludes that a new on-campus stadium for Gopher football may be feasible.

The study recommends a 50,000-seat, open-air stadium be built on campus, northeast of Williams and Mariucci arenas. The projected cost is $180 million, with another $42 million needed for site preparations and infrastructure improvements, bringing the total project cost to an estimated $222 million. The study is part of a broader effort by university officials to examine all options for a future home for its football program.

“Bringing Gopher football back to campus is an exciting dream for many of us, including students, alumni, fans and donors,” says University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks. “An on-campus stadium could build pride, increase revenues, provide a venue for all-university events and give a new generation of fans a true Big Ten football experience.”

Bruininks describes the stadium plan as “modest” by current standards and notes that it’s based on an analysis of this sports market. Seating would be a mix of chairs and benches, including a variety of premium seating options such as loge seating–an outdoor, rail-enclosed small-group area that is a popular amenity in other markets–which would be a unique amenity here.

The stadium would be built to allow for an expansion to up to 80,000 seats in the future. It would include a 30,000-sf indoor club, a hall of fame, team facilities, media facilities and rehearsal and storage space for the 300-member University Marching Band. Two new outdoor plazas for pre-game and other non-game-day events would also be included.

“This is a fantastic facility that could be wonderful for our program and our fans,” says athletics director Joel Maturi. “We believe that an on-campus stadium is the right way to go for the future of our program and that it is the best option out there.”

While the study only outlines financing options and is not a full finance plan, Bruininks says the university believes it can raise a substantial portion of the cost of a new stadium from donors and new sources of revenue. That said, talks with a Gopher booster who has talked about contributing $35 million to build a new stadium have stalled.

While the university is not seeking public funding at this time, Bruininks says the university must be part of any discussions at the Capitol about stadium projects. “We must remain open to public sources of funding,” he says.

University officials stress that the feasibility study is an important first step, but that a decision has not been made to build a new stadium. The university’s lease at the Metrodome expires at the end of the 2011 football season.

The feasibility study, which was completed over the last four months, builds substantially on work that was done in 2002 with the Vikings on a joint on-campus stadium. Many of the same consultants were involved, saving time and resources. The study cost about $145,000 and was privately funded.

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