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Don Davis, Published August 15 2009

TCF Bank Stadium takes stage

MINNEAPOLIS – Nick Tow-Arnett knows Sept. 12 will be a special day.

That is when the Redwood Falls, Minn., native and his teammates will first run into the new University of Minnesota football stadium to play a game.

The 6-foot-2, 247-pound senior tight end knows the TCF Bank Stadium will offer a different feel than he has experienced down the street in the Metrodome.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous when you walk in there,” Tow-Arnett said. “It is absolutely amazing. The field is phenomenal. You can see all of the Minneapolis buildings and stuff through the horseshoe. It looks sweet. The scoreboard, it doesn’t even look real, how big it is.”

But the stadium, with its basketball court-sized scoreboard, is real. Tow-Arnett and his teammates play seven games in the nearly $290 million stadium this year, including the home opener with Air Force and an Oct. 3 date with rival Wisconsin.

University officials began looking into a new stadium in 2003, when discussion accelerated that the professional Minnesota Twins baseball and Minnesota Vikings football teams wanted to leave the downtown Metrodome.

The Twins will play in a new stadium on the west side of downtown Minneapolis beginning next year and the Vikings are looking for a new home, or a way to renovate the Metrodome.

One university goal was to bring football back to campus.

For 57 years, Gopher football was played at Memorial Stadium, which could hold more than 60,000 fans, across the street from where the new stadium stands. From 1982 until last year, the team played in the 60,000-seat Metroome.

Players are looking forward to their first game.

“Playing in the new stadium is a bonus,” said center Trey Davis of Farmington, Minn. “I’m excited.”

Sounding like a Twins baseball player, the 6-foot-2, 276-pounder said that one of the key points of the stadium is playing the game outside again.

Still, even the first Big Ten Conference stadium built since 1960 does not make the team, Davis added.

“A stadium is a stadium,” the sophomore said. “It is exciting that we have this brand new, one of the finest, stadiums in the nation. At the end of the day, it just comes down to how well prepared are you for your game.”

The stadium is pretty much ready to go, too. Workers are installing bricks along walls near the playing field, a last-minute addition thanks to an anonymous donor, and doing other finishing work.

The team plays a scrimmage for season-ticket holders and students on Aug. 22 as the stadium’s first test.

Most fans who do not already have tickets will not be able to see games in person. Every game technically is sold out, although visiting teams may return tickets that go on sale the Monday before a game. Also, a few 19-person suites are available with prices ranging from $4,250 to $8,500 per game.


Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com