At the end of the year, neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota will lose nearly half of their funding from a TCF Bank Stadium endowment, which many use for arts and community projects.
The Good Neighbor Fund (GNF) is a grant program intended to offset the environmental impact of TCF Bank Stadium by funding arts, community and green space improvement projects. The GNF will lose about $25,000 of annual funding when Minnesota United FC finishes its current season and moves to the new Allianz Field in St. Paul.
“The Good Neighbor Fund is … intended to bring in resources to support projects that enhance the vitality and livability of the neighborhoods around the University,” said Erick Garcia Luna, director of community and local government relations at the University.
Since the team’s inception in 2015, Minnesota United’s $25,500 annual contribution has supplemented the GNF's existing approximately $35,000 yearly budget. The team also donated a significant number of tickets to youth organizations in the campus area.
With no outside teams utilizing the site, the Good Neighbor Fund will only offer its regular funding for community projects.
“It’s kind of a bump depending on who is using the stadium,” said Vince Netz, a member of the Good Neighbor Fund Management Committee and president of the Prospect Park Association. “We’ll go back to ‘normal’ after this year.”
When the Vikings temporarily used TCF Bank Stadium during the construction of US Bank stadium, they contributed around $250,000 per year.
Netz said the extra funding enabled multiple projects during the Vikings’ tenure, such as construction on bike trails in local neighborhoods.
The fund enables many unique undertakings which might otherwise not be possible, Netz said.
Past GNF projects include Pianos in the Park, Preserving the Dinkytown Murals and Hanging Gardens of Towerside. The fund also enabled projects with local artists such as concerts in Luxton Park in Prospect Park and a composition for the church bells at First Congregational Church of Minnesota in Marcy-Holmes.
Several ventures are planned for the upcoming year using the GNF funds supplemented by Minnesota United. These include an oral history project undertaken by Southeast Seniors and the Roadmap for the Future of Historic Dinkytown, a project by Preserve Historic Dinkytown.
Lydia McAnerney, volunteer coordinator for Southeast Seniors, said the organization is planning the oral history project as part of their 30-year celebration.
“We’ll recruit volunteers from Prospect Park, Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como neighborhoods to collect stories about community life from residents 65 and older,” she said.
The Roadmap for Historic Dinkytown hopes to create a vision for the area which connects the residential and business communities with technical and organizational support and assistance said David Feehan, co-chair of Preserve Historic Dinkytown.
“We all realize that Dinkytown is not going to be what it was in 1968,” Feehan said. “But what we’ve got to do is … discover and design a new future for the business district and the surrounding residential community that serves the students … local residents ... [and] the purposes of the University.”
The contracts for this year’s Good Neighbor Fund grant recipients will be finalized this week and are expected to be completed within the year. Netz said GNF's Management Committee is beginning to discuss fees for future non-University usage of the stadium.