It’s a good time to be a Twin Cities soccer fan, as there’s plenty of professional soccer on the docket, and the cities’ stadiums are all getting in on the act.
Considerable buzz has been generated by the coming MLS franchise, the St. Paul stadium deal in the Midway neighborhood, and the design plan from Populous. The new 20,000-seat Minnesota MLS stadium is slated for a 2018 opening.
In the meantime, the other major sports venues in town will be pitching in to host professional soccer – keeping the fans engaged as they wait for their MLS club to begin life in its permanent home.
It was reported this week, in Northern Pitch, that the new home of the NFL’s Vikings, U.S. Bank Stadium, may be hosting professional soccer even before it hosts American football.
European giants Chelsea and AC Milan will reportedly be coming to Minneapolis in early August – a match that would be the inaugural event at the new $1.06 billion stadium. The details for the game, part of the International Champions Cup, will be released next week.
Several sources in that article suggested that the teams were concerned about the Field Turf, and that grass may have to be shipped in and rolled out to create the soccer pitch in the stadium, but final plans have not yet been announced.
Northern soccer fans, though, would surely be thrilled to be the first ones through the doors to see the new stadium. The very first event at the new stadium, one with such high-profile European clubs, is sure to generate local excitement, and a hot ticket.
That same article floated the possibility of a late summer or early fall U.S. Bank Stadium appearance for the U.S. Women’s National Team. It speculated about an appearance by America’s most popular team sometime after the conclusion of the Rio Olympics, possibly as part of a national tour, though that was unconfirmed.
The Twins’ Target Field will also be temporarily converting to soccer this summer, hosting its first ever soccer match on June 25th. Minnesota United will be hosting Club Leon, from Mexico’s Liga MX. The two teams played last summer in front of 9,388 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, but this game is sure to draw a much larger crowd.
Baseball ballparks have proven to be good venues for temporary soccer pitches. Milwaukee’s Miller Park has hosted professional games with large crowds in each of the last two summers, including more than 30,000 fans for Swansea versus Chivas in 2014. Yankee Stadium averaged more than 29,000 fans for NYCFC games in 2015, as they similarly wait for their own stadium to be built.
It’s unclear where Minnesota FC will play prior to their new stadium’s opening, though Target Field would be one possible solution. According to sources in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, as of February, TCF Bank Field on the University of Minnesota campus is the more likely choice should the team start MLS play prior to 2018. Twins owners the Pohlad family does own a share of the new soccer club, though, so that may factor into the team’s temporary home.
Twin Cities sports venues will be full of soccer this summer, and with the coming of MLS and the new Midway stadium, the future is remarkably bright. It’s a good time to be a soccer fan in Minnesota.