Minnesota United Allianz Field first steel beam raising, Nov. 21, 2017
Photo via Minnesota United

Up on a Tuesday: Minnesota United hoist first beam of Allianz Field

ST. PAUL, Minn.—On a blustery, sky-blue late November afternoon in the Midway neighborhood, Minnesota United FC celebrated a new phase of construction on Allianz Field with a steel beam signing and raising event. As they hoisted the first real piece of their new stadium, plenty of local politicians looked on alongside others involved in the funding, design, and construction of the venue.

Allianz Field will hold 19,400 fans, including 2,800 in a safe-standing supporters' section when it is completed in Spring 2019.

At this point, the rest of the steel beams have arrived on site, and the majority of the cement foundation work is completed. This means so far the project is on schedule, with most of the work slated to be done by February 2019, and the site ready to host its first match on April 10, 2019.

The team held a groundbreaking ceremony December 12, but started construction on the site just north of Interstate 94 in earnest in June of this year. Builders finished most of the foundation in about four months. And now, with steel fabricated in nearby Wisconsin, the stadium itself will really start to take shape.

Scott Amundson of Mortenson Construction, the company behind the project, said on Tuesday that he was optimistic about the tight timeline. “Our milestone was to get the steel started the week of the 20th,” he said. “By February [2018] the balance of the structural steel will be up. At this point, barring an act of God, a weather event, or something like that, the schedule looks pretty positive.”

Staying on time has allowed Loons owner Dr. Bill McGuire, who visits the site nearly every day, to focus on ensuring the stadium will be part of something bigger than just his team. 

“[Allianz Field] does represent a true public/private partnership in every sense of the word,” Dr. McGuire said to collected media, corporate and government partners, fans, and construction workers during the ceremony. ”It's not just about soccer, but it's about the community.”

That includes supporters, of course, and Dr. McGuire minced no words in talking about how strongly he hoped to serve supporters in the new stadium. “The supporters make the experience and the experience is what makes [soccer] different," he said. “It's sort of an ongoing dynamic where you listen a lot and take notes and then try to just put all together with the bigger design.”

That's meant that through this process, the team has hosted a number of discussions with representatives of MNUFC supporters' groups, including the Dark Clouds and True North Elite. They've given their input on a range of topics, including the slope of their designated section, the location of tifo lines, and the availability of storage space on site for match-day flags, drums, and other supplies. 

The supporters particularly also pushed for more space for people with disabilities. With their feedback, the team has made changes to the design of the supporters' section, to provide more and better access. 

With all of this in mind, after years of worry and uncertainty, it’s clear that Minnesota United FC and McGuire are trying to build something special in St. Paul. "There are always doubts and concerns about if it's really going to happen, and hopefully," McGuire said, "people can see that it really is happening."

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