Minnesota Football: Board of Regents to approve TCF Bank Stadium Improvements and MORE BEER!

Hannah Foslien

The Board of Regents is expected to approve TCF improvements paid for by the Vikings, and increased point of sale for alcohol in TCF Bank Stadium in their meeting Thursday and Friday.

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents is going to discuss the proposed TCF Bank Stadium improvements required and paid for by the Minnesota Vikings, and propose additional points of sale for alcohol in the Bank in their meetings this Thursday and Friday.

On Thursday, the BOR will split into its various committees for meetings on a variety of topics. The committees will discuss pertinent topics, and will vote on decisions to take to the full BOR in their full meeting on Friday.

The committee of interest to Gopher fans is the Facilities and Operations Committee(FOC). This committee will meet at 1:45 on Thursday in the West Committee Room in the McNamera Alumni Center. The item of interest to Gopher football fans is the review and approval of the Schematic Plans for the TCF Bank Stadium Improvement Project. These plans of course are the improvements to TCF that are being required by the Vikings and the NFL to make TCF viable to host the Vikings for at least the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The scope of the project is listed below in the agenda document for the FOC:

2. Scope of Project:
The scope of the project is driven by the needs of the Vikings to satisfy certain requirements of the National Football League (NFL) as well as the need to operate the stadium into December and possibly January of each season. The stadium was designed originally to be operated through the end of November. Areas of the stadium will require winterization to protect systems from freezing and potentially damaging the
building. In addition, certain Vikings Game Day operations will function differently from University Game Day operations, thus requiring additional changes.


The project scope includes:


• Replacement of existing artificial turf to allow changes to markings, logos, etc. to accommodate both the Vikings and University needs and the removal and installation of a new artificial turf field after the Vikings use ends.

• Installation of a field heating system.

• Winterization of numerous spaces throughout the building.

• Build out of existing 8,000 SF shelled space for storage needs.

• Additional camera platforms and data wiring for NFL requirements.

• Addition of temporary bleachers on the west plaza that will accommodate approximately 1,750 seats.


Impacts to the exterior and interior of the stadium will have virtually no visual impact. The most noticeable feature will be the replacement of the playing field with new artificial turf that will allow adjustment of field markings to comply with the requirements of the NCAA/Athletics and NFL/Vikings. In addition the removal of a planting area to accommodate the temporary bleachers will be needed. Both the planting area and the
playing field will be restored at the end of the Vikings use of the stadium.

Facilities and Operations Agenda is attached here.

All these improvements are slated to begin in the next week or so and be done by July. It's going to be busy over there this spring.

The current turf will be ripped up, and a presumably blank green turf field will be installed which will need to be painted before each Gopher and Vikings game with the proper team, NCAA, NFL, and conference logos, NCAA or NFL striping, and end zone designs. The Vikings will also pay for a replacement field to be installed during the summer of 2016 (assuming the new Vikings stadium is on line to be done) and it will be to the Gophers specifications. (i.e. pretty similar to what we have now)

It appears that the underground field heating system is back in play. Previous discussions waivered between a under the field piping system or a large heated blanket, but from this it appears the piping system has won.

The winterization, storage space, and additional camera platforms have long been discussed and have not changed since day one. However, the final plans for the temporary bleachers is an interesting note. As discussed above, the temporary bleachers will seat approximately 1,750 people and will be located in the open end of the stadium. To install the bleachers, the landscaped area with trees on the open end will need to be removed, and then will be replaced when the bleachers are removed, again at the Viking's expense. Basically this is the Wilf's:

Money_medium

via www.reactiongifs.com


Seeing that the bleachers will be taking up so much space of the open end, it will be interesting to see how that impacts the iron gates and whether they will be able to be used to exit the stadium, and how much space there will be to walk behind the bleachers to get from one side of the stadium to the other. This brings up an issue with the current beer tent set up. There is no way that the current beer tent setup will be able to function with the temporary bleachers taking up as much space as they will. That brings us to Friday's BOR meeting.

During Friday's full Board of Regent's meeting which begins at 9:00 AM in the boardroom on the 6th floor of McNamera, the eleventh agenda item is a discussion of the Report on Alcohol Sales at TCF Bank Stadium. University Vice President Pamela Wheelock, Vice Provost and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young, and Senior Associate Athletic Director and CFO Tom McGinnis are scheduled to update the BOR on the University's two year pilot program of selling alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium, and review the impacts related to sales and service of alcohol at University sports facilities, and to inform the BOR as to recommended changes to state statute, and future University operations. Attached is the agenda documents, and full pilot study discussed below:

BOR Agenda and full pilot study


That's quite a mouthful, so lets take this one step at a time.

First a review of the alcohol sales topic as it has a long and complex history. The BOR adopted a resolution in December of 2008 which approved alcoholic sales in connection with events in TCF Bank Stadium in the Premium seating areas and special event rooms as well as the Club Rooms in both Mariucci and Williams Arena. In the spring of 2009, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a law stating that the University must sell alcohol throughout TCF, Mariucci and Williams if they wanted to sell it at all. At that time, the BOR had no intention of doing so, and so passed a resolution in June of 2009 forbidding the sale of alcohol anywhere in athletic facilities during athletic competition. That began a three year "dry period" where even in the suites and club areas alcohol could not be sold. This led to a steady decrease in suite and private club seating sales and a significant loss of a source of funding for the athletic department. University lobbyists made it well known to the Minnesota Legislature that something needed to change, so in 2012 the legislature passed a new law that

permitted the sale of "intoxicating liquor" "…at a location in the stadium that is convenient to the general public attending an intercollegiate football game at the stadium." The legislation specified that "on-site liquor sales to the general public must be available…through half-time" and restored the ability to serve and sell in the premium seating areas of Williams and Mariucci Arenas. The legislation states that these provisions will expire on July 1, 2014.

In July 2012, the BOR rescinded the 2009 resolution and adopted one that would permit alcohol sales following the criteria set forth by the Minnesota Legislature. Therefore, what you saw the past two seasons is what you got. However, two items in the near future will need the alcohol policy to be tweaked. The first is the installation of the temporary bleachers in the area where alcohol has been sold the past two seasons, and the second is the sunset date of July 1, 2014 on the law passed by the Minnesota Legislature.

Which brings up to the review of the pilot program of selling alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium, and the committee's recommendations

The major finding from the pilot study is that during the two years where alcohol was sold in TCF Bank Stadium, there was NO SIGNIFICANT INCREASE in the number of game-day incidents. In fact as you can see in the chart below from the pilot study report, 2012 and 2013 had two of the three lowest amounts of incidents in TCF Bank Stadium history.

TCF Bank Stadium Police Incidents All fans: 20092013 [pilot years 201213]

2013 Season

2012 Season

2011 Season

2010 Season

2009 Season

Alcohol

related

59

(34 underage)

43

(11 underage)

57

(23 underage)

77

(38 underage)

74

(34 underage)

Disorderly Conduct

5

9

3

20

10

Other

8

4

6

4

12

Total

72

56

66

101

96

TCF Bank Stadium Game Day incidents involving U of M students

2013 Season

2012 Season

2011 Season

2010 Season

2009 Season

Alcohol

related

37

(28 underage)

20

(11 underage)

27

(15 underage)

42

(31 underage)

53

(30 underage)

Disorderly Conduct

3

(1 underage)

0

0

6

(4 underage)

3

(1 underage)

Other

3

1

0

1

3

Total

43

21

27

49

59


Considering all the doom and gloom naysayers who said this would never work, these are impressive numbers. The University should be commended for making this work in a way that did not add to a decline in fan experience. So what about outside of the stadium? Were all these people getting drunk and then causing brawls in the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium after the game?

Actually the complete opposite occurred. From the pilot study report:

As reported by the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD),there has not been an increase in incivility/quality of life calls during home football game weekends. In fact, UMPD indicated a decrease in police activity on home football weekends due to the increased police presence on those weekends. Neighboring community members did not report any increased negative impacts as a result of sales of alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium.

And now we get to the most important point when it comes to the athletic department standpoint. The moolah. As was well reported, after the initial year of sales at TCF due to set up costs and stupid contracts, the U of M actually lost money selling alcohol. However, with the updating of contracts, and a slight increase in alcohol sales, the U of M athletic department actually made approximately $182, 000 last football season.

TCF Bank Stadium Alcohol Sales: 20122013

Gross Sales

ICA Commissions

Net Profit

for ICA

Attendance

Alcohol Sales per Capita

2012 Season

$907,268

$221,706

$21,118

251,262

$3.61

2013 Season

$1,061,333

$325,567

$181,678

276,536

$3.84

The study also shows an increase in premium seating over the past three seasons. By any possible viewpoint, the decision to sell alcohol to the general public at TCF Bank Stadium has been a success. The University administration agrees, which brings us to their recommendations to the BOR on Friday.

So What Does it All Mean to Me?

As discussed, the two issues that will impact the public alcohol sales in future season are the temporary bleacher installation and the July 1 sunset clause in the existing law. The University after reviewing the results of the pilot study have decided to make two recommendations to the BOR for their approval. The recommendations are:

The University recommends that the sunset language be deleted from the "Note" to Minnesota State Statute §340A.404, subdivision 4A., and Per University Policy and Procedures, the University intends to continue to sell beer and wine on football game days in premium areas and in the seating bowl of the Stadium, increasing points of sale in order to enhance convenience to the general public. No other operational changes to the sale and service of alcohol are being considered at this time.

So what does that mean. It means that the University administration is telling the BOR that they recommend that the BOR approve a resolution that they pass along to the Minnesota Legislature requesting that the sunset clause be removed from the law this legislative session. If that doesn't happen? The law will revert back to the 2009 version of the law, and the U will be required to sell alcohol in at least one third of the general seating areas in all athletic facilities, or not sell at all. While we all know politicians are a difficult bunch, getting the votes to approve this edit should not be trouble, and this should easily happen this session.

Secondly, the other recommendation will impact fans directly. Just like the Hockey City Classic where beer and wine was available at nearly every concession stand in TCF, the administration is recommending that this occur for all football games starting in the 2014 season. You will no longer have to go stand in the line in the beer tents, you should be ale to walk to the closest concession stand to your seats and get a beer from there. I will pause for your joyous, uproar of approval and excitement.

Standing-ovation

via www.reactiongifs.com

Oh....I suppose I should sneak in that they also recommended that nothing change in Williams and Mariucci Arenas. Unless you are in the club seats or suites there, no beer for you.

So...for the TL;DR crowd

The BOR will approve all the construction and improvements paid for by the Vikings that are necessary for the Vikings to begin to use TCF this fall. Secondly, unless something seriously goes awry, expect to be able to buy a beer through out TCF Bank Stadium next fall.

If you feel interested in the meetings and decide you want to watch, all of the meetings are open to the public. I am not sure if the Thursday meeting will be live streamed or not, but the Friday meeting will be. You can watch the meeting here.

If anything unexpected occurs, we will update everyone this weekend or Monday, but as it looks now, you will be seeing a few different things while buying your beer from the closed end of the stadium next fall.

Homer-beer_medium

via cdn.uproxx.com


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