ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire does not mince words when talking about how Allianz Field will compare with other stadiums around MLS.
“I think it will be the best,” the former UnitedHealth CEO said at a media event to mark construction on the new stadium in St. Paul reaching 50 percent completion.
Walking around the half-built stadium, set to debut next year, it was clear why McGuire is so optimistic about the Loons' new home: The building will be an architectural marvel with a number of unique features and a clear focus on the fan experience.
“The thing that is really phenomenal for those who have been looking at [the construction closely] is how the stadium truly does reflect the design,” McGuire explained to the gathered media.
From the brew hall on the north side with excellent views of the field – from both inside the hall and the roof deck – to the single concourse, the goal has been to create a great space to watch and experience the world’s game.
McGuire has made it clear since first announcing the stadium that he wants Allianz Field to feel intimate. That feeling of closeness to the pitch starts with the supporters' section on the south side, which features one of the steepest slopes in the world at 34 degrees.
The stadium features several nods to Minnesota’s soccer past. An analog clock and scoreboard will be positioned opposite the modern video board, harkening back to the scoreboard at the National Sports Center in Blaine, the home of the NASL version of Minnesota United, along with their predecessors the Stars and the Thunder.
Even with harsh Minnesota winters, construction is still on track and on budget for a mid-April 2019 home opener, with the bulk of the construction slated for completion during February 2019. To get to that point, a number of smaller milestones will have to be met.
First, in the middle of May, the special PTFE skin will be installed that will act as a rain and wind blocker along with having translucent and illuminative properties.
Next, most of the video and sound systems, along with the seats, will be installed by the end of June. The most important milestone will be the installation of the pitch. The grass, currently being grown in Colorado, has to be installed by the middle of October to ensure it will take root before winter arrives in Minnesota.
With construction moving along at a brisk pace now that spring has finally arrived in the north, it won’t be long until 20,000-plus Minnesota fans and supporters pack into the next “best” stadium in MLS.