While the Gopher football team and the University of Minnesota marching band will soon be calling TCF Bank Stadium home, the new stadium might welcome a wide range of guests after construction.
Olympic soccer has already been proposed as a possible use for the new stadium, and Associate Athletic Director Phil Esten said outdoor hockey, concerts and recreational sports could all use the stadium someday.
Although the primary use of the new stadium will be Gopher football, Esten said the athletic department is looking into maximizing the stadium’s potential.
Esten said the focus remains on having the stadium open for the first football game on Sept. 12 , but he said they have are looking into many possibilities.
“We would love to see hockey be played outdoors on campus,” Esten said.
Although in-depth discussions about hockey at the new stadium have yet to surface, first-year women’s hockey team forward Sarah Erickson said she thinks an outdoor game is something that would draw a crowd to the University.
“I think that it would be a great thing to do for Minnesota college hockey to get an outdoor game in, just for the fans and also for the players just because it gets you back your roots,” Erickson said.
Erickson said she has been playing hockey on an outdoor rink since shortly after she could walk. She said her dad built a rink every year for her and her sister to practice outside.
“You go out, and you’re playing hockey because you love it,” Erickson said. “That’s what the outdoors is all about.”
Another possible use for the stadium could be recreational sports, and Dan Allen , department of recreational sports senior associate director, said he intends to work with the athletic department on a “priority document” in April to outline when recreational activities can use the facility.
The document will provide a detailed description of which activities have priority to use the field at a given time.
Although the detailed discussions are not until next month, Allen said he hopes multiple recreational activities will be able to use the field including club soccer, lacrosse and rugby teams as well as intramural soccer and flag football.
“We’re woefully short of outdoor facilities,” he said.
“We are desperate to get some fields.”
In recent years, the University has lost some of its playing fields for recreational sports, and Allen said the University currently lacks the facilities to support the amount all recreational sports.
A major reason TCF Bank Stadium will be able to host other events is the use of artificial turf, which is less likely to see wear and tear with increased use, Allen said.
Although Allen does not know exactly what sports will receive the opportunity to play in the new stadium, he said he expects students to be excited to use the stadium.
“There’s something fun about being on that field with that big facility all around you,
Allen said. “I think it’s just a unique experience.”