Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Furniture Rental
  2. Outdoor Amplified Sound
  3. Food
  4. Food Trucks
  5. Stakes
  6. Organized Runs
  7. Insurance
  8. Outdoor Events Not Requiring a Permit
  9. Canopies and Tents
  10. Trash and Recycling Services
  11. Other Outdoor Spaces
  12. General Questions

1. Furniture Rental

Do you provide furniture for rental?

No. Our main purpose is to work with customers to obtain permission for the use of outdoor space on campus. We do not have any physical resources for rent.

Through a special arrangement, Coffman Union allows the use of two 6’ tables and four chairs for events occurring on their Front and Riverbend Plazas. Let us know if you would like to utilize these resources and we will work with Coffman to make them available for your event.

If you need to rent outdoor furniture for your event, some rental companies that customers have used in the past include:

2. Outdoor Amplified Sound

Can I play music at my event?

Amplified sound for concerts, speakers and announcements needs to abide by the Outdoor Sound Policy. This policy aims to minimize disruption of classes and regular University business.

Small battery-powered speakers may be used for background music at events. Event planners should be prepared to turn the volume down if requested to do so.

3. Food

What permits are needed to have food at my event?

Food served to event attendees must be approved by the University Health & Safety (UHS). UHS has developed guidelines specifically for food at outdoor events. Please submit your food permit at least two weeks before your event.

Can I grill food at my event?

Yes, provided a food permit is approved in advance. In general, it is safer to grill foods that have already been pre-cooked like brats, hotdogs or frozen hamburgers. Propane grills are preferred because it is easier to control the temperature of the fire. Canopies must cover all food as it is being prepared and served.

Can I have food at my event on Northrop Plaza?

Surdyk’s has exclusive rights to provide food at all events on Northrop Plaza. If you are planning to have food at your event on Northrop Plaza, you must work with Surdyk’s to provide that food

What sorts of food can I have at my event that do not require a permit?

  • Food provided by University Dining Services does not need a food permit.
  • In general, prepackaged food does not require an approved food permit.
  • If pizza is the only food at your event, complete and submit a Pizza Permit acknowledging that you will adhere to the safety requirements outlined in the permit. The Pizza Permit does not require approval from University Health & Safety.

4. Food Trucks

Can I have a food truck at my event?

The short answer is that yes, it is possible to have a food truck on campus. However, the process of approval can be a complicated one and relies on a few factors.

  1. You need to decide if the truck is selling food to the public or if it is catering a private event.
    • If the truck is selling food directly to the public, you will need to get approval from UDS/Aramark to allow sales of food on campus.
    • If the truck is catering a private event, you need to ensure that they do not sell food to the public. Whatever compensation arrangement you make with the food truck owner is up to you and/or your department.
  2. Once you decide on a food truck, you will need to fill out a Food Truck Agreement with the Real Estate Office. You will need a couple of different things for this, including a copy of the truck’s business license, their seasonal food permit issued by the Minneapolis Department of Health, and a Certificate of Insurance listing Regents of the University of Minnesota as “additional insured” for General Liability and Automotive Liability.
  3. You will also need to decide where you are going to put the food truck. We strongly suggest you consider a parking spot. Reserve a parking meter or a spot in a surface parking lot with Parking and Transportation Services.

We can help you navigate this process. After you complete an outdoor space application, we will route it to all of these folks (UDS, REO, PTS.) Since there are so many moving parts involved, we suggest starting early.

5. Stakes

Can I stake down my tent or inflatable?

Staking is not allowed on campus due to the potential of damaging sprinkler lines and waterproof membranes protecting below-ground spaces.

Specifically, absolutely no stakes can be used on Coffman Union Front or Riverbend Plazas or any parking facility. Please contact your tent/canopy or inflatable provider for options on securing your structure.

The cost of repairing damage from the use of stakes on campus is the responsibility of the group that made the reservation.

6. Organized Runs

Can I choose my own 5K Route?

There is only one approved organized walk/run route on campus. Exceptions to this route are rarely approved.

7. Insurance

Do I need to purchase insurance for my event?

If your event is sponsored by a University Department or Campus Life Program, you do not need to purchase liability insurance for your event.

If you are a Registered Student Group, insurance is required for events that involve inflatables (bouncy houses, slides, etc.), amusement devices (rides, dunk tanks, climbing walls, etc.), 5K races, animals, and other risky or athletic activities.

  1. More information about insurance can be found on the SUA website.
  2. Some inflatables and amusement vendors offer insurance policies to their customers for additional cost.
  3. Contact Outdoor Space at 612-626-9307 or if you have questions about whether or not insurance is necessary for your event.

8. Outdoor Events Not Requiring a Permit

Do I need to have a permit for my outdoor gathering on campus?

A permit is required if you want to reserve space for an outdoor event on University of Minnesota property. Assembly without a permit is allowable under certain conditions. For more information on when a permit is required and when assembly can be done without a permit, please review the University policy on Assembly Without a Permit.

9. Canopies and Tents

How big can my tent be before I need to talk with the code office?

A permit from the Building Code Division is required prior to the assembly of tents having an area in excess of 200 square feet, and canopies in excess of 400 square feet. These are general guidelines. Consult the BCD Events Guildelines document for more detailed info.

10. Trash and Recycling Services

Do I need to have trash and recycling services at my event?

If you are generating waste of any kind (having food/drinks, handing out flyers) at your event, you need to have waste collection available. The permanent waste bins on campus are not for event use.

Contact the Landcare office at or 612.625.7361 to arrange for service.

Is there a fee involved with trash and recycling services?

Yes, contact the Landcare office at or 612.625.7361 to get more information and to discuss options.

11. Other Outdoor Spaces

Can I get a permit for an event on East River Flats?

East River Flats Park is not University property. Please contact the City of Minneapolis Park Board for more information about the use of East River Flats Park.

More information about what is and is not University property can be found at the Real Estate Tracts map.

What space is available for recreational or sporting use?

Contact Recwell for information about reserving Rec Sports or Intramural Fields. An Outdoor Space Application is not necessary for reservations on Rec Sports or Intramural Fields.

Can I rent Northrop Mall?

Northrop Mall is not available to reserve for events.

12. General Questions

When I try to reserve a space, EMS.UMN.EDU says “First available booking date violation”. What does this mean?

This message is shown when a user is attempting to reserve a space fewer than ten business days before their event. Registered student groups and University departments must submit a completed Outdoor Space Application at least ten business days before their event.

What information is required to fill out an application?

You can fill out an application for your event as long as you can provide three essential items for review:

  • A description of you event, including the estimated amount of people and the activities taking place.
  • A timeline or agenda that describes when you are setting up your event, when you are having your event, and when you plan to be done tearing down.
  • A layout diagram showing where your event is happening on campus and where your activities are happening on-site.

These items are required for an initial review from our campus partners. Additional details will be required for events that are more complex.

Does it cost money to reserve a space?

For most spaces, student groups and UMN-TC Departments are not charged for outdoor space permits. Coffman Union charges University of Minnesota Departments a sliding fee for the use of the Coffman Front and Riverbend Plazas, but waives this fee for Registered Student Groups and Campus Life Programs.

Additional costs for outdoor events may include insurance, trash and recycling services, furniture rental, audio/visual equipment, security, and other services, depending on the event.

Guests of the University of Minnesota pay a flat fee as a part of the Facility Use Agreement they complete with the Real Estate Office. Complete an application for more information.

How far out can I request outdoor space for my event?

Reservations can be made a year in advance of the event date.

Can I reserve spaces that are not listed on VEMS?

Yes, you can reserve spaces that are not listed by selecting “Outdoor Alternate Area” from the VEMS “Location” tab.

You will need to generate a custom layout diagram for your event. Some groups use Google Maps to take a screenshot of the event area and add event activities and items by hand.

If I submit an application, can the space be reserved by other groups?

No. Once you submit an application the location, date, and time you selected will be held for your event only while the application is processed. If the application is denied, the space will become available for other groups.

Can I make a reservation if I am not a part of the University?

Yes. Login using odspaceguest for both the User ID and Password. Include an Event Description, Agenda, and Details. Once you have submitted the application, it will be reviewed and sent to the University of Minnesota’s Real Estate Office. REO will contact you regarding pricing and completing a Facility Use Agreement.

Who do I contact if I forgot my login info?

Contact Event Services in order to gain access to your forgotten account User ID or Password - Phone: 612-625-9090 Email: If you have an account, but do not have access to it, you can request access on our Electronic Management System (EMS) website. You must be listed as an officer of the group on your Gopher Link page in order to gain access. Event Services will contact you notifying of your approval or denial for the account.