There are plenty of visible supporters at a Minnesota United FC home game. Go to TCF Bank Stadium this season, and you’ll see the black-clad True North Elite, the politically leftist Red Loons, and the gallantly weird Dark Clouds cheering on the team in an inaugural season that started on a snow-covered field.
But there’s another supporters group amid the Minnesota faithful that, perhaps more than any other in all of MLS, exists more as an expression of satire than fandom.
Meet the OpuLoons, who declare themselves to be “a club for select and fancy supporters” of Minnesota’s MLS team.
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever meet them in the conventional sense, as most of their fan activity and presence is in the online realm.
You might spot their distinctive take on the team’s logo – a loon wearing a top hat and gazing at a floating bag of money – on a black-and-gold flag at a tailgate. (They claim to have, at least on one occasion, served smoked, wild-harvested mallard at their pregame shindig.)
The OpuLoons flag
While they joke that “certain OpuLoons continue to occupy the best seats in the house: first row, midfield,” they also note that the move to TCF means “what was once a centrally located abundance of wealth is now scattered throughout several areas of the stadium.”
Though OpuLoons do attend home games and have even talked of road-trip adventures, their primary outreach these days is through Twitter. On the @opuloons account, they comment on current trends (like the “mud jeans” Nordstrom recently announced it was selling) or on the team’s fortunes throughout the season.
The group started in 2014, and though some OpuLoons started their fandom as Dark Clouds, they wanted to carve out a different fan experience for themselves as their “collective net worth increased by several orders of magnitude.”
“If you have no interest in standing the entire game – this isn't a monster truck show; we paid for a seat and we want to use more than just the edge – if you enjoy the benefits of sight lines from midfield, if you want wine and cheese served at your soccer games, you may be an OpuLoon,” notes an anonymous spokesperson for the group.
There is one way to, if not officially join the OpuLoons, at least show solidarity with their satire. Visitors to the group’s online store can buy a range of OpuLoons-themed products, with proceeds going to a worthy Minnesota soccer cause, keeping in the spirit of traditional charity-tied supporters groups.
But they’re a little more festooned than typical supporters’ group offerings. The scarves have tassels, and many of the clothing items feature the legend “We Ha$ It” below the logo. The offerings include pajamas with feet (as they note in the item’s title, “We Spell It Pyjamas”), an “Impressive OpuLoons Stein” and a watch with an OpuLoons logo.
Though it might seem like an odd way for fandom to manifest, it’s right in line with the way that Minnesota fans have supported soccer over the years.
“The top priority for most Minnesota fans is have fun at all costs and don't take yourselves seriously,” says Wes Burdine, a Minneapolis-based writer and creator of the FiftyFive.One website covering Minnesota soccer.
“There is a long history of weird groups of people coming together," he says, "such as the St. Paul Hamm'rs -- Dark Clouds who live in St. Paul and drink Hamm's beer -- or the new Fists of the North Star, South Minneapolis folks who dubbed themselves 'The Leading Post-Apocalyptic-Cult-80s-Animated-Film based MNUFC Supporter's Group in South Minneapolis.'"
“The Dark Clouds themselves are a group of fans who want to celebrate the weird while they support their club,” Burdine adds. “The OpuLoons fit well within that tradition. They're part satire, part self-parody and just a group of fans who love Minnesota United.”
While they might not all dress the part, they’re not opposed to aspiring OpuLoons breaking out tuxedo jackets and monocles should the spirit of the One Percent move them.
“Again, we aren't a centralized, shouting mass of humanity like other groups,” their representative notes. “We have game-day guidelines on [our website], and those include tips for finery. We frequently receive questions about top hats, which is why it is featured on our crest.”
And the “pyjamas [sic]?"
“We can neither confirm nor deny the presence of incredibly opulent footy pyjamas in the bedrooms of certain prominent Minnesotans," the rep says, "But we can confirm their exceeding level of comfort, warmth, and style.”