Look for the University of Minnesota Board of Regents to give their stamp of approval on a plan to build athletic facilities and upgrade others when they meet Oct. 8-9.
The project will cost more than $100 million. Close to $80 million has been raised for the project, a lot of it by Gophers football coach Jerry Kill. The balance will be raised by floating bonds that the administration might have to back, but will be paid for by revenue earned by the Gophers men’s and women’s athletic department. The full “athletics village” project has been projected to cost $190 million, but the actual total cost could be lower when new bids come in.
The plan will need the backing of University of Minnesota Vice President and Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer Richard Pfutzenreuter, who in the past has rejected some financial plans that would improve the facilities of the athletic department.
However, for once the university has a president in Eric Kaler who has proved he will go out of his way to make sure the Gophers athletes can compete with those at other schools.
In addition to approving the facilities package, the Board of Regents will vote in favor of building a Gophers baseball building. The money for that building, some $1.325 million, has been raised by baseball coach John Anderson and former Gophers players such as Paul Molitor, Glen Perkins, Dick McCullough and others. The building is to be erected on the land near the current baseball stadium and will cover 6,000 square feet.
Construction is expected to start once bids are in.
As for the plans for the new and remodeled facilities, the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex and the Bierman Field Athletic Building will be remodeled. The football practice facility, men’s and women’s basketball practice facility, and academic structures all will be new and will include a new building housing all offices for football and the same for men’s and women’s basketball.
The Bierman Building will have some new tenants and the current football dome will be shared by baseball, softball and men’s and women’s track and field. The road between Bierman and the Gibson-Nagurski buildings will be eliminated, according to present plans.
A new track for the women’s and men’s teams is definitely in the plans but the site hasn’t been solidified yet. The favorite site could be the area across from TCF Bank Stadium where a group of old grain elevators reside. Another site could be an area near Mariucci Arena.
The coaches with the most to gain are Kill and the football staff, who I understand have been promised groundbreaking of the football facilities this fall, and both men’s and women’s basketball coaches.
Help for Leidner
Gophers offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover didn’t hesitate when asked if the coaches could take part of the blame for quarterback Mitch Leidner’s slow start this season.
“Oh absolutely, as I say all the time: It’s an 11-man deal as far as the players, everybody has to be working together and we have to be putting the guys in great positions to be successful,” Limegrover said. “We hadn’t always done that, and I feel like we did a better job of that Saturday [in a 27-24 victory over Ohio] and we need to continue to do that.”
Limegrover said that one of the big keys to the Leidner’s success against Ohio — a game in which the quarterback passed for 264 yards and completed 71.0 percent of his passes, both season highs — was a simplified offensive package in which the Gophers emphasized the team’s strengths against an opponent and Leidner’s strengths.
“Trying to take the best of both of those worlds and tighten it up,’’ Limegrover said. “… We may not have 15 throws that we want to throw, we may have five, but they’re very good against this team and they’re things he feels very comfortable throwing.”
The Gophers offense amassed 468 yards of total offense against Ohio, after averaging only 347.3 yards per game over their first three contests, and Limegrover said he thinks the victory was a sign that the offense is righting itself.
“I think we went a ways towards that,” he said. “We still have a ton of work to do, but I think the guys played with a ton of confidence and that was the No. 1 goal coming out of Saturday was to get those guys feeling good about themselves again, and I think we accomplished that.”
• Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was on hand last week at Apple Valley to visit sophomore Tre Jones, brother of Timberwolves rookie Tyus Jones, and junior Gary Trent Jr., son of the former Ohio University and Timberwolves player. He has offered scholarships to both players. Trent has offers from 15 schools, his father said.
• The St. Paul Saints set an attendance record of 404,528, or 112 percent of capacity, at CHS Field this year.
• Former Vikings All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson did the color commentary for the Gophers-Ohio game on the Big Ten Network.
• Drew Hare, the starting quarterback for Northern Illinois who nearly led the team to an upset of No. 1 Ohio State, is the son of former Gophers receiver Andy Hare, who played for the U from 1982 to ’85. Drew has led the Huskies to a 2-2 record as they enter Mid-American Conference play on Saturday at Central Michigan. Hare has passed for 879 yards and six touchdowns.
• There may be no better story in baseball than Justin Morneau’s comeback from a concussion with the Colorado Rockies. The former Twins first baseman looked as if he might be done with baseball, but he instead has made a full recovery after nearly four months out of the game. Since returning from the disabled list Sept. 4, he has batted .351 (20-for-57) with three doubles, two triples, three RBI and seven runs scored in 18 games.
• Former Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin continues to have a great season for the Buffalo Bills. He has caught 16 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown, and leads the team in receptions and targets. Harvin caught seven passes for 66 yards in the Bills’ 41-14 victory over Miami on Sunday. … Meanwhile, Jets receiver and former Gopher Eric Decker missed last week’s game because of a sprained knee and might not play this weekend. He has 10 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
• Twins closer Glen Perkins was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the first half of the season, posting a 1.21 ERA with a .188 batting average against and 28 saves. But in the second half Perkins has really struggled, posting a 7.36 ERA with a .361 batting average against with four saves and three blown saves.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com