MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- With the first game under their belt, the University of Minnesota says the second time around will go even better for fans and neighbors near the stadium.
On Saturday morning, the Gophers take on the California Golden Bears in just the second game at the new TCF Bank Stadium. They'll do so with an improved atmosphere due to some changes made by the university.
"The things that we did went extremely well. But we had some challenges, and I think we learned from it," said Joel Maturi, the U of M Athletic Director.
Maturi said the university heard from hundreds of fans and neighbors after last week's inaugural game. They universally praised the stadium, he said, but they also noted some concerns.
In response, the university has made the following changes: gates will now open a full two hours before kickoff -- that's thirty minutes earlier than the first game; officials are also opening two additional gates and adding staff and an express lane to improve the flow of fans; they're adding staff, food, and stands to ease congestion at concession stands; they're also adding buses and changing stops to lessen the wait for shuttles after the game; and they're addressing the stadium's speaker system.
"We've looked at the speaker system and where speakers need to be, where they need to be pointed," Maturi said, adding that fine-tuning the system will likely be a season-long effort.
Overall, the university's efforts have already been met with approval by fans and neighbors.
"I think those changes are great, and I think it will only better the experience here," said Jared Saatela, a U of M junior who has season tickets for the Gophers.
"All along in the process they've been very careful to get neighborhood input and involvement in the planning," said Carla Urban, the Vice President of the Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association.
(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)