Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague said Thursday that fundraising for the $150 million athletics facilities project is "way ahead of schedule," noting that $70 million has been raised in about 10 months.
Teague gave an update before the Board of Regents Facilities and Operations Committee approved using $15 million of the money already raised for design purposes.
"I feel very good about the pace that we're on," Teague said after the meeting. "Our fundraising is way ahead of schedule. I am thrilled with the money we've brought in thus far, and I'm thrilled with the prospects of our timeline."
Senior Associate Athletics Director Chris Werle said, "We're still hoping to break ground [by the] end of the summer. That's our goal."
Last week, University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said as with any university project, 80 percent of the money — in this case $120 million — needs to be raised before construction can begin. The other 20 percent can be financed and paid off through continued fundraising, he explained.
"We're going to get it done," Regent Thomas Devine said. "We're going to make sure that we deliver a product here.
"And I think certainly when we look at the arms race that we're in — those of us that have traveled to the other schools in the Big Ten, and we know what's going on in the SEC — this is an important step for the university. And the commitment's there from this board and from the president."
The Gophers originally unveiled this as a $190 million project in July 2013. Teague insists the project hasn't been scaled back — the goal is still to raise $190 million — but acknowledged there are components that will be updated after this phase.
Those include practice facility upgrades for men and women's golf, baseball, women's gymnastics and wrestling, as well as renovations for the old indoor football complex, which is currently being used by eight teams. The $150 million phase will build an indoor football complex, a basketball facility, and an academic and nutrition "Excellence Center," for all 750 Gophers athletes.
Regent Dean Johnson thanked Teague for the work he and his department have done. "I know this has not been an easy mountain to climb," Johnson said. "And yet, I believe on behalf of the university, and the state of Minnesota, this is much needed.
"When this issue comes up in public, one of the first things I indicate is this is done with private funds, foundation money — no tax dollars or no tuition — and I think it's very important to state that for the general public."