Stadium to build Minnesota United’s identity
While Minnesota United has yet to gain much attention after its entry into MLS last year, the team hopes that will soon change, especially when its new stadium opens next year.
“We’ve got to do it our way, creating our own identity and who and what we want to be,” CEO Chris Wright said of his club’s philosophy.
At the core of that strategy is Allianz Field, a privately funded, $200 million stadium that is more than 50 percent complete and is set to open next April.
“Three years ago the team was playing in the NASL and had under 500 season-ticket holders, and now we’re roughly a year away from the venue opening and we’re sold out of that inventory,” said Bryant Pfeiffer, Minnesota United chief revenue officer. “Awareness of the team is at an all-time high and should only keep growing.”
‘Wonderwall’ strikes a chord at new stadium
When it opens next year, Allianz Field will have a 2,800-person supporters space that will be known by just one word, according to Minnesota United CEO Chris Wright: Wonderwall.
It’s a reference to the 1990s song by the British band Oasis, which has become a hallmark in the club’s brief history. It dates back to 2011, when then assistant coach Carl Craig began using it to get the players in a positive mindset. After the team, then known as the NSC Minnesota Stars, clinched a spot in the NASL playoffs by one point the players sang it with their supporters, known as the Dark Clouds. The tradition has stuck, and that high level of fan passion and fervor is a key part of the team’s success.
“That section and that song? That’s going to drive the experience inside Allianz Field,” Wright said.
Wonderwall, by Oasis (excerpts)
Today is gonna be the day
That they’re gonna throw it back to you
By now you should’ve somehow
Realized what you gotta do
I don’t believe that anybody
Feels the way I do, about you now …
Because maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all, you’re my wonderwall
Earlier this month, the club hit 14,500 season-ticket holders for next season — its self-imposed cap — after starting the 2018 season with 11,000. It has more than 600 people on its waitlist. The new stadium, which was designed by Populous and is being built by Mortenson Construction, will seat 19,400. Last season, the team averaged 20,538 fans in its temporary home of TCF Bank Stadium. There are also three premium clubs in the stadium that are completely sold out, and 21 of the stadium’s 25 suites have as well.
Minnesota United is touting some of the unique elements the stadium will bring to fans. Among them are a brew hall that will feature 96 beer taps and will be open on non-game days; a large “great lawn” outside the stadium that Wright said the team will have programming on; and a 2,800-person standing supporters section.
Minnesota United also is working with Oak View Group to help it sell sponsorships around the new stadium, including three gate partnerships and potential naming rights for its club spaces. It signed a 10-year deal with Bell Bank in April for naming rights to one of the gates, the first top-tier sponsorship the team has signed since its naming-rights deal with Allianz.
Moving into the new stadium will be a significant revenue booster for the team, although Wright noted that the club’s expenses will rise as well as it has chosen to self-manage the stadium.
“Our goal is to break even next year, and that would mean our revenues would have to go up exponentially,” Wright said. “But our owners are in a position to say that we need to make sure the experience we are generating for the fans is absolutely second to none, and that is far more important.”