ST. PAUL, Minn. -- On Monday, Minnesota United held their ceremonial groundbreaking for their upcoming soccer-specific stadium. MLS Commissioner Don Garber was on hand as media, fans, and team officials braved the frigid 9-degree Minnesota winter for the beginning of the stadium-building process.
Despite the cold, Garber alluded to a much warmer temperature for the pulse of Minnesota expansion.
“If we didn’t think Minnesota would be supportive of an MLS team, we never would’ve started here,” Garber remarked. “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. 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 15 feet away to a maximum of just 145 feet. The pitch itself has expected dimensions of 120 yards long by 75 yards wide.
Already nicknamed “Cloud City” by the Dark Clouds (Minnesota’s longest-serving supporters section), the new stadium promises to bring strong exterior aesthetics. United president Nick Rogers described it as a translucent skin with LED lights underneath, allowing the shell to project different colors for events and commemoration. The outer canopy will cover 80 to 85 percent 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. United confirmed that they will open their inaugural MLS campaign in TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota football team.