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U of Minnesota announces ballpark plan — kinda

The University of Minnesota breaks every fundraising rule by announcing plans for a new on-campus ballpark without a single big pledge in hand.

The University of Minnesota laid out its plans for a new on-campus ballpark to replace Siebert Field, but one crucial ingredient is missing: any sort of funding for the project.

The U wants to see a $7.5-million, 3,000-seat facility complete with artificial turf, press box, concessions area and restrooms. Certainly it's a very basic ballpark, not nearly on the level of other new Division I facilities opening in recent years, including new ballparks in other Big Ten schools.

Here's the kicker: the U doesn't have a single dime raised toward the project. Yes, we've been hearing for years about Golden Gopher alumni just waiting to step to the plate and give, give, give toward the project. Apparently not: Coach John Anderson freely admits the project needs two or three major donors to kickstart the process.

Now, if you've been around professional fundraising at all, you know this is precisely the wrong way to raise money. Generally speaking, you shouldn't go public with a fund plea until you ideally have 80 percent or so of the funds already in hand. Everyone wants to be part of a successful project, not one that has attracted zero interest.

Then again, we suspect Coach Anderson really doesn't want an on-campus ballpark; the Gophers now play all their home games at the Metrodome before small crowds, and Anderson has always maintained he loves indoor baseball because there's never a rainout or bad weather. But with the final days of the Metrodome approaching — the general feeling is that at some point it will be torn down to make way for a new Vikings stadium — the University must begin planning now. Reluctantly, it appears.

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