It's not 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but 2009 University Avenue South East should be a top destination in Minnesota.
That's the address of TCF Bank Stadium, new home of the University of Minnesota Gophers football team. The building, which has a capacity of 50,000 screaming maroon and white clad fans, will open in 62 days when the Gophers host Air Force Academy Sept. 12 for the season's home opener.
University of Minnesota Gophers head football coach Tim Brewster talked about his team's first game at the new TCF Bank Stadium Friday during the U of M Golf Fundraiser at the Legacy Courses at Cragun's. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Gopher head coach Tim Brewster stood in front of about 100 faithful fans Friday during the U of M golf fundraiser at the Legacy Courses at Cragun's to not only promote his program, but scream praises for the new stadium.
"The most important thing is it creates a tremendous home-field advantage," said the third-year coach. "We felt we didn't have as good of home-field advantage as our opponents have had when we go into their stadium.
"The other thing is just getting our football team back on campus. We can reconnect with the history and tradition that is very special. Those things are really going to help our football program and the fact that it is an amazingly beautiful stadium helps."
Work at the stadium site began in late June 2006 with construction and the unveiling of the stadium logo taking place July 11, 2007.
Total cost for the stadium reached $288.5 million and included site preparation and infrastructure improvements. The University funded 52 percent of the cost with non-state dollars. The state picked up the remaining 48 percent.
"The transition has been remarkably smooth and a lot of the credit goes to the people that are in this room right now," said Gopher athletics director Joel Maturi. "In my seven years as athletic director I've gotten a lot of e-mails. I've never gotten so many positive responses from our fans of how well everything was handled."
The stadium, designed primarily by HOK Architects, is a traditional horseshoe-style college stadium with a similar feel to Minnesota's Memorial Stadium. There will be 39 Suites, 59 loge boxes and 300 indoor club seats among the 50,000.
TCF will be the only Big Ten Stadium going east-west. All others go north-south and will be the newest Big Ten stadium by about 50 years.
"We've had an opportunity to take many of our recruits through TCF Bank stadium this summer and the response that we get is amazing," said Brewster. "The kids walk in there and their jaws drop and their eyes get big. They picture themselves playing in this stadium.
"What a beautiful stadium like that does is bring a vision of being a University of Minnesota Golden Gopher to the recruits mind."
The fourth largest videoboard among college football stadiums will be housed at TCF. It will be 48 feet high by 108 feet wide.
Getting to see it this year will take some work as all tickets are sold out for Gopher home games. It's the first time since about 1960 said Maturi.
"It's really hard to put into words because there isn't a day that doesn't go by that somebody from the media, or one of our boosters, or someone that has driven by it doesn't talk about it," said Maturi. "You have to see it to really appreciate what I'm saying."
It will take a quality product to entertain those 50,000 fans, however, and that thought isn't lost on Brewster. Again, one of the most optimistic coaches in the Big Ten promised the Rose Bowl. He didn't say when, though.
For now the coach is concentrating on the season opener at Syracuse. But many people will be looking ahead to Sept. 12.
"It's going to be amazing," said Brewster. "It gives me goosebumps to think about TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 12 being jam packed. Playing an opponent like the Air Force Academy. So fitting to play a service academy for the opener. It's going to bring tears to peoples eyes because of how much emotion there is about being back on campus."
Said Maturi: "The day itself is important in that it sets a date of new beginning of Gopher history. Bringing Gopher football back to campus is one of those 100 year decisions. It's not a short term decision. As far as the immediacy of our football program and our athletics program as a whole, it's going to bring upon much needed revenue to allow us to maintain our 25-sport program, which we're proud of."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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