TCF Bank Stadium

'This is the Taj Mahal'

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2009 - 4:16 PM

Past met future -- and came away impressed -- when three U players from 1967 toured the new stadium.

hide

Former Gophers football players pose for a portrait in the new TFC Bank Stadium during a tour of the facility. At left is John Williams, Jim Carter, center, and at right is Ezell Jones.

Photo: Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

They turned left and headed down the ramp toward the field.

The first sight was the enormous scoreboard more than a football field away. Then, in succession: the bright green field with maroon end zones; the stands rising up on either side. Then, to the west, the University of Minnesota campus and downtown Minneapolis.

Ezell Jones, John Williams and Jim Carter walked slowly, craning their necks, taking in the University of Minnesota's brand-new TCF Bank Stadium from the ground floor. They were not shocked. But awe?

"Fantastic," Jones said.

"Beautiful," Carter murmured.

"Really, really something," Williams said, moments after executing a three-point stance on the brightly-dyed FieldTurf surface.

These folks are not easily impressed.

Four decades ago all three played right across the street from here, in Memorial Stadium. Jones and Williams were bookend tackles and Carter -- who also was a hockey player -- the fullback on the 1967 team that won a share of the Big Ten title, the last for the program. This was a team that went undefeated at home, a team that beat Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin, taking control of the Little Brown Jug, Floyd of Rosedale and Paul Bunyan's Axe. Williams was a first-round NFL draft pick who played 12 years in the league, appearing in three Super Bowls and winning one. He knows the bright lights. Carter was drafted by Green Bay, where he moved to linebacker and became Ray Nitschke's heir apparent while playing in historic Lambeau Field. Jones played two seasons with the Boston Patriots.

Jones came to Minnesota from Memphis and returned after pro ball. He is the owner and vice president of Associated Insurance Agents Inc. For years Carter ran an automobile dealership in Eau Claire, Wis., which he recently sold before moving to Afton. After the NFL Williams studied to become a dentist and has a practice in Minneapolis.

They don't see each other a whole lot these days, but their relationship appeared strong when they convened recently to take a tour of Minnesota's new football home. The idea was to get both reactions to the U of M's new Brickhouse and memories of the old one from the last Gophers team that won a Big Ten title.

It didn't take long for the old rapport to heat up. For example:

"He was always the strong side tackle and I was on the weak side," Jones said, putting his arms around Williams' neck.

Carter chimed in: "There is some appropriateness to those names."

Jones and Williams have remained close to their alma mater. Both have premium seats in the new stadium. Carter, who has grown averse to big crowds, rarely returns. At one point, standing in U of M President Robert Bruininks' suite, looking out over a view of downtown Minneapolis, Carter, wowed by the well-appointed room, said, "But the question remains, can they win?"

"Do me a favor," Jones said. "Say 'we.'"

The Brickhouse

Carter had just agreed to take a picture of a family of tourists standing outside the stadium and Jones was warning the lady not to let Carter run off with the camera while Williams gazed at the building's brick facade.

"You can see a little bit of the old stadium in the arches," he said, nodding to the arches -- topped with names of Minnesota counties -- that wind their way around the outside of the stadium.

"When you walked into Memorial Stadium you walked in thinking about tradition, thinking about history, you know? This is a new facility. I think it's wonderful, beautiful. The technology, the skyboxes, it's just wonderful. But it's a new building. It's like a new beginning. Maybe that's a good thing. It's great for the campus, for the students. It's like they're back in the equation."

The first thing Jones thinks of when he sees the stadium is the two-tiered design. Memorial was a single bowl, and coach Murray Warmath used to make his players run the steps to get in shape. "That wouldn't be quite as hard now," he quipped.

Said Carter: "Memorial wasn't fancy like this. It was an old, rough place."

But it treated the '67 Gophers well. That season Minnesota beat Utah and Southern Methodist at home during the nonconference portion of the schedule. Then the Gophers beat Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin there in Big Ten play. They dominated the Spartans, came back from 15 down to beat Michigan 20-15, handily beat Indiana and finished up with a 21-14 victory over Wisconsin.

In the locker room

As they entered the football-shaped, 60-yard-long locker room, Jones' exclamations of admiration echoed off the far wall. The room has more than 100 cherrywood lockers. Above the lockers are the names and pictures of great players in program history. It is well-lit, richly appointed, lush. And cool.

"Air conditioning?" Carter asked. "There's air conditioning? I remember the old locker room. There was paint peeling off the walls, the locker were all broken. Gosh, this is something. This is really something."

"Look at all the clocks," Jones said. "[Former coach Murray] Warmath wouldn't let you see a clock. He'd say, 'You'll practice until you're done!' We had metal lockers. It wasn't a 10th of this size. You were knocking into guys all the time."

Said Williams: "We had two tables, three at most. A few big equipment trunks. It was, let's say, antiquated. This is the Taj Mahal."

The suite life

Jones, Carter and Williams stood outside one of the stadium's suites. Each suite has a picture outside the door, depicting part of the program's past. Here there was an aerial view of Memorial Stadium.

Jones pointed to one end of the old horseshoe. This is where the locker room was, he said. A cubbyhole. Williams pointed to a spot on the other side. This is where the Purdue Boilermakers train used to pull up to the stadium along with the team on game day.

Williams pointed to Cooke Hall, which was situated across the open end of the stadium. He remembered a day during the summer of 1967. He came out of Cooke Hall and saw a fellow drive up in a car with Texas plates. The fellow got out and started looking at the field.

"I started talking with the guy, and you know what? It was Bruce Smith," Williams said, referring to the Gophers' only Heisman Trophy winner, in 1941. "He died shortly afterwards."

Now back to the present. Jones walked through the glass door of a suite into the open seats and let out a "Whooee!" before asking Carter to take a picture of him.

Williams marveled at how close even the seats high in the stadium seem to the field.

Overall? On a sunny day in July, three former Gophers stars reminisced about the past but looked forward to the future.

"I love this, I really love this," Jones said. "This is a beautiful place."

Said Williams: "The best part will be playing back on campus. I remember what that was like. It was wild, great, wonderful. I can remember the whole ritual, the pregame meal, being escorted to the stadium. That was exciting. And that's what this will be, exciting."

  • about this series

  • The Gophers return to campus with the opening of their new football stadium.
  • related content

  • TCF Bank Stadium

    Wednesday March 30, 2011

    The Gophers return to campus with the opening of their new football stadium.

  • Need a back for that chair?

    Tuesday September 8, 2009

    Today is the final day for purchasing chair backs from the U of M ticket office (612-624-8080) to insure they...

  • GOPHERS FOOTBALL STADIUMS, PAST AND PRESENT

    Home opener: 6 p.m. Saturday vs. Air Force • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Big Ten Network (830-AM)

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Indiana
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Houston 6:30 PM
Detroit
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
San Antonio
Charlotte 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 0 3rd Prd 9:09
Montreal 0
NY Islanders 0 2nd Prd 8:24
Detroit 1
Arizona 1 1st Prd 14:29
Ottawa 1
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Boston
Florida 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Dallas 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Columbus 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Boston College 49 FINAL
Clemson 64
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Eastern Mich 69
NC State 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
Iowa 63
Stony Brook 48 FINAL
New Hampshire 63
Notre Dame 72 FINAL
Pittsburgh 76
Providence 66 FINAL
St Johns 75
Davidson 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 75
Xavier 82 FINAL
Seton Hall 90
Tulane 37 FINAL
Temple 55
Auburn 63 FINAL
Tennessee 71
Texas Tech 58 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Arkansas 56 FINAL
Florida 57
Penn State 57 2nd Half 0:57
Illinois 58
Lipscomb 73 FINAL
Stetson 75
South Florida 71 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Bradley 58 FINAL
Indiana State 64
UMass Lowell 38 2nd Half 11:59
Binghamton 48
Green Bay 27 2nd Half 17:17
Cleveland State 35
Georgetown 38 2nd Half 15:45
Creighton 17
Coll of Charleston 37 2nd Half 16:06
Delaware 36
Villanova 31 2nd Half
DePaul 37
Vermont 33 2nd Half 14:49
Hartford 27
TCU 42 2nd Half 12:14
Iowa State 52
Kennesaw St 37 2nd Half 11:10
Jacksonville 38
Kansas State 21 2nd Half 17:33
Kansas 36
Boston Univ 42 2nd Half 13:50
Lehigh 57
Illinois State 30 2nd Half 16:00
Loyola-Chicago 23
Albany 49 2nd Half 10:20
Maine 44
Butler 37 2nd Half 13:35
Marquette 41
LSU 40 2nd Half 15:12
Miss State 41
Mount St Marys 52 2nd Half 13:00
Sacred Heart 41
Richmond 35 2nd Half 14:57
VA Commonwealth 32
Virginia Tech 35 2nd Half 15:05
Wake Forest 41
IUPU-Ft Wayne 44 2nd Half 11:26
Nebraska Omaha 49
Arkansas State 18 2nd Half
Georgia State 34
Loyola-Maryland 5 1st Half 14:40
Army 9
Tenn Tech 16 1st Half 12:28
Belmont 13
Bethune-Cookman 2:00 PM
Florida A&M
Valparaiso 8 1st Half 14:54
Ill-Chicago 6
UAB 7 1st Half 14:45
TX-San Antonio 12
Idaho State 14 1st Half 12:49
North Dakota 14
Evansville 4 1st Half 15:47
Drake 4
Rutgers 0 1st Half 20:00
Indiana 0
Ball State 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
UNC-Wilmington 3:00 PM
Drexel
Coastal Carolina 3:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Howard
William & Mary 3:00 PM
James Madison
North Carolina 3:00 PM
Louisville
Coppin State 3:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Ole Miss 3:00 PM
Missouri
Wichita State 3:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Loyola Marymount 3:00 PM
Pacific
Winthrop 3:00 PM
Radford
George Washington 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Bryant 3:00 PM
Robert Morris
Long Island 3:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Fair-Dickinson 3:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Saint Louis
Georgia 3:00 PM
South Carolina
Central Conn St 3:00 PM
Wagner
SIU Edwardsville 3:15 PM
Eastern Ill
Ohio 3:30 PM
Central Mich
Eastern Ky 3:30 PM
Morehead State
Incarnate Word 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Campbell 3:30 PM
UNC-Asheville
Vanderbilt 3:30 PM
Texas A&M
South Alabama 4:00 PM
ULM
Western Carolina 4:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Detroit 4:00 PM
Milwaukee
Idaho 4:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Marshall 4:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Jackson State 4:30 PM
Miss Valley St
Houston Baptist 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Louisiana 4:30 PM
Texas State
Denver 4:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 4:30 PM
South Dakota
Texas 5:00 PM
Baylor
Citadel 5:00 PM
Chattanooga
Fresno State 5:00 PM
Colorado State
Yale 5:00 PM
Cornell
Ark-Pine Bluff 5:00 PM
Grambling St
Nebraska 5:00 PM
Minnesota
Hampton 5:00 PM
Norfolk State
Purdue 5:00 PM
Northwestern
Alabama A&M 5:00 PM
Prairie View
Dartmouth 5:00 PM
Princeton
Pepperdine 5:00 PM
St Marys-CA
NC A&T 5:00 PM
Savannah State
Delaware State 5:00 PM
SC State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Southern Miss
Nevada 5:00 PM
Wyoming
Akron 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
Colgate 6:00 PM
Bucknell
FIU 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Brown 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Duquesne
NC Central 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Iona
Alabama 6:00 PM
Kentucky
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Lamar
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Liberty
Hawaii 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
New Orleans 6:00 PM
McNeese State
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
Northeastern
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Harvard 6:00 PM
Penn
La Salle 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Furman 6:00 PM
Samford
TX A&M-CC 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Duke 6:00 PM
Virginia
Mercer 6:00 PM
Wofford
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
North Florida
Longwood 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Ark-Little Rock 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC Riverside
Towson 7:00 PM
Hofstra
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Murray State
San Jose St 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Rice 7:00 PM
North Texas
Toledo 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Oklahoma 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
San Francisco 7:00 PM
San Diego
Utah State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
UCF 7:00 PM
SMU
Southern Ill 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Troy 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Jacksonville St 7:30 PM
Tennessee St
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Stanford 7:30 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
BYU
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Middle Tennessee 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Weber State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Memphis 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Air Force 9:00 PM
UNLV
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Seattle 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Montana State 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Colorado 9:30 PM
UCLA
UMKC 9:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Mount St Marys 64 FINAL
Sacred Heart 71
Texas-El Paso 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 74
Arkansas State 61 FINAL
Georgia State 47
Bryant 84 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Central Conn St 83 FINAL
Wagner 67
Fairleigh Dickinson 78 FINAL
St Francis-PA 60
Long Island 53 FINAL
St Francis-NY 62
Bethune-Cookman 70 FINAL
Florida A&M 57
Longwood 56 FINAL
Campbell 68
Charleston Southern 40 FINAL
Winthrop 77
Louisiana Tech 68 FINAL
Marshall 67
Ohio U 74 FINAL
Central Michigan 66
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 53
Coppin State 38 2nd Half 14:08
MD-Eastern Shore 36
Incarnate Word 22 2nd Half 10:34
Nicholls 55
Samford 29 2nd Half
East Tenn St 21
Western Carolina 31 2nd Half
Furman 38
Gardner-Webb 50 2nd Half 13:07
Coastal Carolina 42
Liberty 31 2nd Half 18:32
High Point 27
Presbyterian 33 2nd Half 10:57
UNC-Asheville 40
Kent State 41 2nd Half 13:47
Akron 39
Northern Ill 42 2nd Half 15:28
Ball State 36
Houston 40 2nd Half 11:04
Cincinnati 47
SIU-Edwardsville 27 2nd Half
Eastern Illinois 16
Eastern Kentucky 37 2nd Half 13:01
Morehead St 49
Holy Cross 29 2nd Half
American Univ 22
Army 39 2nd Half 12:21
Loyola-Maryland 42
Niagara 26 2nd Half
Manhattan 23
Lehigh 35 1st Half 00:19
Boston U 38
Navy 36 2nd Half
Lafayette 26
Saint Josephs 49 2nd Half 11:58
Davidson 32
Duquesne 40 2nd Half 10:33
Fordham 28
George Washington 46 2nd Half
George Mason 24
St Bonaventure 32 2nd Half
Massachusetts 24
Milwaukee 44 2nd Half 13:48
Youngstown St 65
Jacksonville 35 2nd Half
Kennesaw St 24
North Florida 21 2nd Half
USC Upstate 36
Jackson State 2:00 PM
Miss Valley St
St Marys-CA 14 1st Half 11:45
Pepperdine 5
Nebraska Omaha 2 1st Half 14:21
IUPUI 10
Houston Baptist 6 1st Half 15:27
Sam Houston St 4
Mercer 11 1st Half 10:44
(25) Chattanooga 16
No Dakota State 11 1st Half 13:07
South Dakota St 17
Oral Roberts 11 1st Half 13:57
South Dakota 10
Southern Miss 9 1st Half 13:08
Western Ky 10
TX-San Antonio 8 1st Half 13:37
UAB 14
East Carolina 12 1st Half 11:35
Tulane 8
South Florida 16 1st Half 11:47
Memphis 13
Buffalo 25 1st Half 8:20
Eastern Michigan 18
New Mexico St 9 1st Half 15:33
TX-Pan American 6
Utah Valley U 10 1st Half 11:23
UMKC 16
Louisiana 9 1st Half 13:37
Texas State 9
South Alabama 13 1st Half 13:33
ULM 9
Saint Louis 7 1st Half 13:07
Dayton 17
Cleveland State 19 1st Half 10:52
Oakland 15
Grand Canyon 8 1st Half 15:15
Chicago State 6
UCLA 2:30 PM
Oregon
Washington St 2:30 PM
(12) Stanford
Kansas State 3:00 PM
Texas Tech
UNLV 3:00 PM
Air Force
UCF 3:00 PM
Tulsa
UNC Greensboro 3:00 PM
Wofford
Delaware State 3:00 PM
SC State
San Diego State 3:00 PM
Utah State
Sacramento St 3:00 PM
Montana
Hampton 3:00 PM
Norfolk State
NC A&T 3:00 PM
Savannah State
Alabama A&M 3:00 PM
Prairie View
Toledo 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Ark-Pine Bluff 3:00 PM
Grambling
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
Marist 3:00 PM
Iona
Bucknell 3:00 PM
Colgate
North Dakota 3:00 PM
Idaho State
Ark-Little Rock 3:30 PM
Georgia Southern
BYU 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Gonzaga 4:00 PM
Portland
Pacific 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Abilene Christian 4:00 PM
Lamar
Colorado State 4:00 PM
Fresno State
New Mexico 4:00 PM
San Jose St
UC Davis 4:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 4:00 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 4:00 PM
McNeese State
TX A&M-CC 4:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Old Dominion 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Tenn Tech 4:00 PM
Belmont
Eastern Washington 4:00 PM
Idaho
Stetson 4:00 PM
Lipscomb
Washington 4:30 PM
California
USC 4:30 PM
(7) Oregon State
IUPU-Ft Wayne 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Northwestern St 4:30 PM
SE Louisiana
SE Missouri St 4:30 PM
Austin Peay
Portland State 5:00 PM
Montana State
Columbia 5:00 PM
Brown
Northern Colorado 5:00 PM
Weber State
Charlotte 5:00 PM
FIU
(19) Princeton 5:00 PM
Dartmouth
Penn 5:00 PM
Harvard
UT Martin 5:00 PM
Murray State
Troy 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Morgan State 39 2nd Half
Howard 31
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Jacksonville St 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Nevada
Oklahoma St 6:00 PM
Iowa State
CS-Bakersfield 6:00 PM
Seattle
La Salle 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Cal-Irvine 6:00 PM
Cal Poly
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Green Bay 7:00 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Hawaii

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close