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Shakopee gift to help fund new stadium, scholarships at University of Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS - At a ceremony held Oct. 19 in front of a large crowd of journalists and University of Minnesota supporters, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community announced a $12.5 million gift to the university. SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks and University President Robert Bruininks made the joint announcement at Williams Arena on the U of M Minneapolis campus overlooking the construction site. With this donation, the SMSC has donated $109 million over the past 10 years to Indian tribes and charitable organizations.

Ten million dollars will support the construction of TCF Bank Stadium, with $2.5 million going into a matching endowment fund, creating a $5 million endowment to provide scholarships for students. The $10 million stadium gift is the largest private gift ever donated to Golden Gopher Athletics. The gift will fund the stadium's west plaza, which will be designed to exhibit and celebrate the history, presence and cultural contributions of all 11 Indian tribes in Minnesota.

At a private meeting before the announcement, the check for the stadium was presented to Bruininks by Crooks. The two met along with SMSC Vice Chairman Glynn A. Crooks, SMSC Tribal Administrator Bill Rudnicki and University of Minnesota Foundation President and CEO Gerald Fischer to discuss the gift. The scholarship endowment was the major topic of discussion, with Crooks expressing his desire to see the scholarships open to all students in need, not just American Indian students, though Native preference would be honored.

''We thought it important to support this cause as a way to encourage a better understanding of the history and role of Indians in Minnesota. The U of M is a fine institution of higher learning, and what better place to promote the role of Indians in this state. The endowment will provide opportunities for more Indian students to seek out a college education at the university so that they can better serve their tribal communities. We need Indian doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants and leaders to help Indian people be self-sufficient,'' Crooks said.

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''The Dakota people, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, and all tribes in Minnesota have traditions that extend back thousands of years,'' said Bruininks. ''This gift will tangibly link those traditions with new, shared traditions that we will celebrate and enjoy together, further enriching the legacy of TCF Bank Stadium.''

In recognition of the significance of the gift, both the west hospitality plaza, which is the largest and most central plaza for the stadium, and the scholarship will be named in honor of the SMSC.

TCF Bank Stadium, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009, is being funded in part by $86 million in private gifts and sponsorships. With the SMSC gift, the total amount raised is $73 million, with $13 million left to be raised.