Photo by Gopher Photo
The Golden Gophers Marching Band from the University of Minnesota loves its new digs, the state-of-the-art TCF Bank Stadium, located right on campus. Since 1982 Minnesota football has been played at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.
Minnesota’s fans are ecstatic to have the tailgating game day atmosphere back and just take a short walk to the stadium. For the marching band, the new facility is a monumental improvement compared to its old space in Northrop Auditorium, shared with many other organizations.
“The old facility was originally put together for the band about 80 years ago when the band was 125 people; now we have 315 people,” says director Tim Diem. “We went from a hallway with lockers on a 45-degree slant to a real locker room with space and showers. We have ensemble rooms, storage rooms, and we have offices for everybody now to get their work done.”
Also the students can walk down a hallway and straight onto the stadium field. In the past they practiced on lined asphalt that was six to eight blocks away from the band room.
“In the old days we’d be out on an asphalt field pounding down on the tar which was very hard on the students with the high step that we do,” Diem says. “Now we’re practicing on our performance site, so we feel what it’s going to feel like and hear what it’s supposed to sound like. We also have a room to do inside rehearsals; before if it were raining or snowing, we had no place to go.”
The rehearsal space is equipped with built-in recording technology. “We can flip a switch and record and play back, so the students can hear,” Diem says. “It’s changed the world for us quite a bit.”
According to Diem, the new facility has been a long time coming. “The athletic director here treats us very well, and the president of the university is a trumpet player, so the two of them combined really appreciated what this band does, and they knew in the new stadium the band could have room to do what they need, so they made it happen,” Diem says.
Overall, the new facility has provided a homelike atmosphere for the students. “Now they have a home; they can sit on the couches and do homework, they can hang out with each other; we can put up some of our historical artifacts. It’s given them a lot of ownership and even deepened their level of commitment to the program.”