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University of Minnesota gets $11.2M for naming rights to Mariucci Arena

This courtesy rendering released on Monday, July 10, shows how the exterior of 3M Arena at Mariucci might look.(Courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota has sold the naming rights to Mariucci Arena. Is Williams Arena next?

The U on Monday announced a 14-year, $11.2 million sponsorship deal with 3M of Maplewood that includes a name change of the Gophers' men's hockey arena to 3M Arena at Mariucci.

The Gophers' home ice has been named after U player and coach John Mariucci since 1985, when it was part of the old field house complex that now includes Williams Arena, home to the men's and women's basketball team, as well as the Sports Pavilion that hosts volleyball and wrestling matches.

"I feel like we've enhanced our program," athletics director Mark Coyle said during a news conference Monday, July 10.

The money, he said, will go almost exclusively toward upgrading the school's facilities that falls under a $190 million fundraising campaign called Nothing Short of Greatness. About $166 million of that is dedicated to the Athletes Village, which will include new practice facilities for the football and men's and women's basketball teams, as well as a study resource center and cafeteria for all student-athletes.

With the 3M partnership, the school has now raised $92 million toward the Athletes Village since fundraising began in 2013. The Athletes Village is scheduled to open — on time and on budget, Coyle noted — in January.

"So, continue to aggressively fundraise," Coyle said. "That will continue to be a priority moving forward."

That could mean a similar naming-rights deal for Williams Arena, known affectionately as "The Barn." Named after former football coach Henry L. Williams, it has been home to the Gophers men's basketball team since it was dedicated in 1928 as the University of Minnesota Field House.

"With Athletes Village and our Nothing Short of Greatness campaign, obviously we need to continue to fundraise, and we have to look at everything," Coyle said. "I can't predict the future."

But asked specifically about whether the U would consider a sponsorship deal that includes naming rights to Williams Arena, Coyle said, "Yeah, I think you have to. Again, it's got to be the right corporation, if that's what we end up doing. Those conversations need to take place on campus."

Before the 3M partnership, TCF Bank agreed to pay $35 million over 25 years for the naming rights to the Gophers football stadium, TCF Bank Stadium. That money helped pay for some of its initial $288 million budget.

John Mariucci Jr., son of the Gophers coaching legend for whom the men's hockey arena is named, endorsed the partnership with 3M, and the name change. His father was a Gophers player from Eveleth who went on to play for the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL.

He coached the Gophers from 1952-66 with the exception of one season during which he coached the U.S. Olympic team..

"Our father and grandfather was a lifelong Minnesotan, and would have been thrilled to see 3M showing so much support for the University and for men's hockey," he said in a statement. "To have 3M, one of Minnesota's most respected and well-known brands, be a part of the rich history of Gopher hockey and the Mariucci legacy is exciting."

The Gophers will play their first game at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Oct. 1, an exhibition against Alberta. They open the Big Ten season there Oct. 13-14 against Penn State.

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