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Minnesota Football: Have the Gophers Played Their Final Game at TCF Bank Stadium?

It appears the TCF Bank name will soon no longer exist

Is this the end for TCF Bank Stadium?

It appears that the Minnesota Golden Gophers may have played their final game at TCF Bank Stadium when they defeated Purdue back in November. According to an article in the Star Tribune Monday morning, TCF Bank is merging with Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington Bancshares to form the 11th largest bank in America. The article indicates that the new merged company will take the Huntington name, and that TCF Bank will no longer exist. Thus, it is expected that TCF Bank Stadium will most likely be renamed Huntington Stadium, potentially in time for the 2021 season.

Obviously much is unknown, but with the assumption that the name and logo will change, it will be a stark change to go from the maroon and gold TCF logo to this:

TCF Bank has already gone through one merger in the last 18-months after being bought by Chemical Bank out of Detroit. The TCF Bank name remained through that merger however. According to the Huntington/TCF Bank press release the two companies will keep separate operations until the merger is approved which is expected at some point in 2021. When in 2021 may make things very interesting as to how and when new signage at the stadium can be expected to go up and if it will be in time for the season or not.

The initial TCF Bank naming rights agreement was signed with the University of Minnesota in 2005 and was set to pay the U of M $35 Million over a period of 25 years. In 2017 the U and TCF amended that agreement when TCF invested $8 Million into the Athletes Village facility and added additional funds to net the Gophers an additional $541,000 over the length of the initial agreement. In turn Minnesota added newly designed TCF Bank Stadium logos on the field near each 25-yard line and replaced the old ones on the scoreboards as well. In that amendment also was an opportunity for TCF Bank to secure an additional ten year option to extend its sponsorship and the naming rights for TCF Bank Stadium through the 2040 season. If they agreed to that option, Minnesota would receive an additional 4 million initial contribution.

The potential for a name change came up before the stadium was even constructed. According to a Minnesota Daily article dating back to 2007 TCF Bank was looked at potentially getting bough out at that date. They reviewed the original stadium naming agreement and found that TCF would need to propose an alternative name proposal which would be subject to “reasonable” University approval. The University could reject the proposed name if it would make reference to another D I University or professional athletics team, or if it would make reference to another region, city, or state.

It would appear the potential Huntington Stadium name would pass all of these various qualifications.

However, the funding of all the change of logos and signage could still be a point of contention. While a copy of the actual initial agreement could not be found, according to the Daily article here is the language when it comes to changing logos and signage:

Under the agreement, the University is required to make any necessary adjustments due to a name change “as quickly as reasonably practical.” The University is financially responsible for all initial costs involved with TCF Bank Stadium-related advertisements, according to the contract. Aside from the initial cost, the University would not be financially responsible for additional expenses associated with the change. If a name change occurs, TCF Bank is responsible for all costs involved with developing a new name and logo along with installation of updated stadium advertisements, according to the contract. Apart from those costs, TCF Bank is also under contract to fund notices, announcements and media campaigns “reasonably required” to publicize the new name and logo.

As that reads it sounds like the U was responsible for the “initial” i.e. the adding of the TCF Bank Stadium signage and logo when the stadium was constructed, but in theory the cost of any new signage to the exterior and the interior of the stadium if the name is changed would be the responsibility of Huntington and not the University. Additionally, Huntington would be on the hook for a media campaign to let the world know that TCF Bank Stadium is now Huntington Stadium.

So once again, the question in especially coming out of a pandemic, how fast with the SEC move to officially agree to the merger of these two banks, and how fast will Huntington move to get new signage and logos onto the existing stadium. Or will it be a weird 2021 season where the Gophers play in a stadium named for a company that does not actually exist anymore, but there isn’t enough time to get the new name on the turf and up on the stadium? Only time will tell, but it very much appears the end of TCF Bank Stadium is very close.