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Gophers still short on fundraising for new ballpark

University of Minnesota Golden GophersThe University of Minnesota still needs to raise more than a million dollars to start the first phase of renovations to decrepit Siebert Field — and that’s not counting the additional millions to complete the project.

So far the school has raised a little less than $5.5 million, with the first round of renovations currently budgeted at $7 million. That will pay for an improved playing field, new grandstands, a new press box and upgraded concessions. A second phase, expected to cost $8 million, would cover additional amenities, including clubhouses and indoor-batting cages.

The Gophers played the 2011 season at Target Field and failed to draw 10,000 total fans the entire season. In 2012 the Gophers are planning to play at the Metrodome after repairs are completed, but there are no long-term assurances the Dome will be around in the future once a Minnesota Vikings stadium solution emerges.

It is somewhat surprising fundraising has stalled. The program is one of the better ones in the Midwest, the Pohlad family jump-started things with a $2-million gift, and there’s plenty of high-profile alumni — Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield, Terry Steinbach — who presumably could be tapped for fundraising.

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