The University of Minnesota on Thursday disputed a report that the school plans to break ground on a $70 million football practice complex in December.

“There is no plan in place to break ground at any time, and we certainly do not have plans for a $70 million practice facility,” said Lou Nanne, the chairman of the U of M fundraising campaign. “We’re looking at plans that would not even be remotely close to that.”

The response from the university followed a Thursday morning column by the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman that quoted sources saying the December groundbreaking plan is firm.

Last summer, Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague unveiled a $190 million proposal to upgrade the facilities for several sports. Since then, the Gophers have been conducting a fundraising campaign.

But Gophers associated athletic director Chris Werle said Thursday that a groundbreaking won’t happen by December because it’s a public university that must go through a process.

“We need to be realistic as far as the time it takes to do this planfully,” Werle said. “But at the same time, we want to do it as soon as possible.”

University officials indicated the amount dedicated to the football facility would be closer to $30 million.

Still, Werle did say the fundraising feasibility study is going well.

“We’re hearing good feedback from the people we’re talking to regarding the plans and designs and what our goals are,” he said. “A lot of folks we talk to in the community understand the need and how this is good for Minnesota.”

Gophers coach Jerry Kill said he’d sure like to break ground in December. He has shown recruits the blueprints, promising them that the facility would materialize.

“I’ve never lied to anybody; I’m not going to start,” he said. “If I don’t get it done, then they’re probably going to fire me for not getting the facility built. I’m OK with that, too. We’re going to get it done.”

staff reports