Supplement Feature - July 2009
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Stadium Solutions

An Inside Look at Outdoor Sports

By Richard Zowie

TCF Bank Stadium
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

In 2009, the Minnesota Golden Gophers will depart the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome after more than 25 years and will begin play in TCF Bank Stadium. The move will, no doubt, give the Gophers some elbow room as they'd shared the Metrodome with the Golden Gophers baseball team, the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and MLB's Minnesota Twins.

With their new home on campus instead of a two-mile drive west across the Mississippi River, the Gophers hope to add to their college football success that includes six national championships (including three straight in the mid-1930s and two years in a row in the 1940s), 18 Big Ten Championships and a Heisman Trophy winner (Bruce Smith in 1941).

After all those years inside the Metrodome, those who like football outside will get their wish as the stadium, designed by HOK Sport (since renamed Populous), features an open-air horseshoe design. With a seating capacity of 50,000, it can be expanded to seat up to 80,000.

According to the University of Minnesota Web site, TCF Bank Stadium is part of a 75-acre expansion of the Minneapolis campus; up to 10 new academic buildings will be built by 2015. Travel will also be more convenient as the proposed Central Corridor light rail will run near the stadium with a Stadium Village station. The stadium is on the northeast side of campus.

The $288.5 million stadium also features seats designed for a collegiate look and feel and 97 percent sustainability with almost 9,000 tons of steel in the structure coming from recycled steel.

Phil Esten, the University of Minnesota's associate athletics director, said they asked HOK to provide a more intimate feel than what the Metrodome has. Where the Metrodome seats 63,500 for football, the new stadium has 50,000.

"It'll sound like 100,000 because of how intimate it feels," Esten explained, noting the stands are about 15 feet closer to the field. "When you stand in the stadium you feel like you're much closer than you were in the Metrodome."