ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota United will play in a new venue as well as a new league next year, as team owner Dr. Bill McGuire announced Friday that TCF Bank Stadium will play host to the club when they join MLS in 2017 as they await for their new soccer home in St. Paul to be built.
TCF Bank Stadium, the $303.3-million home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team, has a capacity of 51,000, but the team is expected to only use the lower bowl of the facility. United’s front office have yet to figure out all the logistics of the stadium, including the possibility of a house-reduction system to tarp the upper deck of seats.
The facility is only three miles away from the St. Paul Midway site where United intend to build their stadium, and lies on the same light-rail corridor. It's less than two miles from downtown Minneapolis and seven miles from downtown St. Paul.
Minnesota United have played at the stadium before. In 2014 they played the Ottawa Fury in a doubleheader with an international friendly between Manchester City and Olympiacos. The matches drew a crowd of 34,047 spectators.
Opened in 2009, the stadium more recently played host to the NFL's Minnesota Vikings in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, while their new stadium was being built. It has also hosted concerts for U2 and Beyoncé, and both the Gophers hockey team and Minnesota Wild have played games in the venue during the winter months.
Minnesota United president Nick Rogers said they considered staying at the National Sports Center for their first season in MLS. The Twins’ stadium, Target Field, was also considered. He said at the end of the day it came down to the best TV presentation and the fewest scheduling conflicts. TCF Bank Stadium won out in both categories, with only an eight-game home schedule for college football compared to 81 games for the Twins at Target Field.
The stadium had new turf installed in May that was conspicuously missing football hash marks and other interior markings. Rogers said the team actively negotiated with the University of Minnesota to create a field that will be less distracting for fans. A spokesperson for TCF Bank Stadium said soccer lines will be painted on the turf and then removed afterward.
The soccer field itself will measure approximately 120 yards by 70 yards, with eight feet of clearance between the corner flag and the brick walls surrounding the field.
United hope to have their own stadium ready in 2018, with delays in state legislative action pushing the date back. The team still hope to open their St. Paul stadium in the late spring or summer of that same year.