Minnesota United To Debut Fan-Friendly Allianz Field Saturday
Allianz Field is set to debut Saturday for NYCFC-Minnesota United, and it displays "painstaking attention to detail" at every turn, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The stadium "provides spectators an intimacy and primo sightlines" that large football stadiums "don't allow." Allianz Field's farthest seat is 125 feet from the near sideline, which is "closer than the farthest lower-bowl seat at TCF Bank Stadium," where Minnesota United has been playing. A "sophisticated field-heating system keeps the pitch playable in cold weather, including presumably through unexpected April snowstorms." The stadium is also "symbolic of a league that is growing more relevant by the season," as 17 of MLS' 24 teams now "have soccer-specific stadiums, and three more are planned" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/12). Minnesota United coach Manny Lagos said that the stadium is "surreal," but that the team's ownership "sees this act as the start of the next phase." Lagos said, "To take the community and this new vision of Minnesota soccer ... to use it as a way to be more relevant from a global standpoint in Minnesota" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/12).
FAN FARE: THE ATHLETIC's Jeff Rueter noted Minnesota United has a "wide range of festivities planned" for this weekend. On Friday night, Adrian Heath, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and others will "share the Ordway Theater's stage with the Men in Blazers." The club will also "launch some specialty merchandise" at Allianz Field in collaboration with Ebbets Field Flannels. The NYCFC-Minnesota United gameday show "kicks off at noon on Saturday, with a fanzone hosting seven local food trucks and music." Team CEO Chris Wright said that the team "already has an action plan in case of a greater snow emergency," despite there being a less than 10% chance of precipitation on Saturday (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/10).
CUSTOM BUILD: MPRNEWS' Euan Kerr noted the team will "take to a custom built" grass pitch for the home opener Saturday. Minnesota United/Allianz Field Head Groundskeeper Ryan Moy said that conversations about "how to build the pitch began years ago." Allianz Field has a "roof over the seats that casts a shadow depending on the sun's position," which can affect the field's grass. Moy said that an array of grow lights mounted on a mobile gantry help "even out the growth in the darker areas." He added that Allianz Field was "built with snow in mind." The stadium has "undersoil heating and drainage systems" that will "melt a lot of snow." Moy said that the team has "already been doing that for a couple of months during the winter" (MPRNEWS.org, 4/11).
TODAY IS GONNA BE THE DAY: The STAR TRIBUNE's Zgoda wrote the new stadium's "signature feature" is the Wonderwall, a 2,920-capacity, "safe-standing supporters' section rising behind the south-end goal." The section has "assumed the name" of Oasis' hit single, which fans "have sung together after victory since at least" '12. The section, which encompasses nearly 15% of the stadium's total capacity, has "no seats, with only rails to grasp." The section ascends at a 34.9% incline "seemingly right on top" of the the goal below (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/12). The STAR TRIBUNE offers an in-depth look at the new stadium.