Minnesota United FC (MNUFC) broke ground on its privately-funded soccer specific stadium at the Snelling-Midway site this week, with team owner, Dr. Bill McGuire, MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, and St. Paul Mayor, Chris Coleman, all on hand.
Braving the elements, Commisioner Garber said:
If we didn’t think Minnesota would be supportive of an MLS team, we never would’ve started here. This team has enormous history, way back to the NASL days, and is iconic. Us thin-skinned New Yorkers are going to have to wear our long underwear and get warm hats when we come out here. We had 40,000 people in the freezing cold for the championship game [in Toronto]. I don’t have any doubts that fans will come out here no matter the weather.
The Club released some updated figures about the stadium project, including: the initial capacity of the St. Paul stadium will be 19,916, with an ultimate future capacity of around 25,000; seating will remain in close proximity to the pitch, ranging from 15ft away to a maximum of just 145ft; the pitch itself has expected dimensions of 120 yards long by 75 yards wide.
MNUFC President, Nick Rogers, described the aesthetics of the new stadium as having “a translucent skin with LED lights underneath, allowing the shell to project different colours for events and commemoration. The outer canopy will cover 80-85% of the seats, allowing for both protection from the weather, as well as a way to harness a strong atmosphere”.
That’s an experience you really want to create,” Rogers affirmed. “I’ve talked to people in soccer and the NBA who have looked at [stadiums like Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City] and what they’ve done from a premium hospitality standpoint. We’re going to take that to another level. We’ll have a very impactful visual component as well as a great place to watch and play the game.
There was no updated timeline for an opening, but the team’s last estimate was sometime during the 2018 season, however MNUFC did confirm that they will open their inaugural MLS campaign in TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota football team.
MNUFC’s new US$150m soccer-specific stadium is being designed by global architectural behemoth, Populous.
While the ceremonial groundbreaking has been held this week, the actual construction on the 20,000-seat stadium can not begin until the Club has been able to acquire the parcel of land currently owned by RK Midway. Most of the venue will be located on a site currently owned by the Metro Transit, with a portion of the site plan overlapping with the RK Midway property – a shopping centre – which remains a sticking point.
Speaking about the project during the new design renderings unveiling earlier this year, Bruce Miller, Senior Principal at Populous and lead architect for MNUFC’s new stadium, said:
We are truly excited to unveil the architectural vision for the new home of the Minnesota United. This new facility will provide the city of St. Paul and the northern Midwest region a year-round destination for both soccer and entertainment. This building is designed to be a soccer first facility, but it is also designed to host events year round. The new Minnesota United stadium offers a bold vision for the future of soccer and aspires to become an international stage for the Beautiful Game. The building will be both contextually and climatically responsive and offers an intense fan experience both inside and outside the stadium walls.
McGuire, principal owner of Minnesota United FC, added:
This world-class venue will not only offer our fans an iconic professional soccer experience, but also provide our team with the necessary tools to establish themselves as a top-tier professional soccer club. We want this facility to be the cornerstone of professional soccer throughout our state and the North. We expect this facility to serve as a catalyst for additional development that inspires greater livability in this area. We are proud to say that the fulfillment all of these goals appears to be on track.