Plan ahead and come early. That’s the advice for sports fans heading to Allianz Field, the new home of the state’s pro soccer team, Minnesota United.
Saturday is opening day at the sleek new stadium off Interstate 94 and Snelling Avenue in St. Paul’s Midway area, and about 20,000 fans are expected for the 4 p.m. kickoff against the New York City Football Club.
The Twin Cities’ newest sports venue is accessible by all modes of transportation, and “it’s very important to evaluate all the options available to you,” said Justin Borrell, the stadium’s general manager. To help you get to and from the games this season, here is a guide:
Mass transit: A large percentage of fans took mass transit to the games when the team played at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, and “we hope they will continue to do that,” said team spokesman Eric Durkee. The stadium is served by Metro Transit’s Green Line trains and the A-line, the rapid bus line that runs along Snelling Avenue. Both lines run every 10 to 15 minutes with Metro Transit considering adding extra trains and buses for the postgame crowd dispersal, according to the Allianz Field transportation management plan.
The nearest Green Line stop is at Snelling and University avenues. The same is true for the A-line. Both stops are about a block from the field. Police will be at the intersection and crossings nearby to help fans cross the busy streets before and after the game. For an efficient trip, buy an all-day transit pass for $5 ($4 on weekends and holidays) at any rail or A-line vending machine. The pass is for unlimited rides for up to 24 hours. Best of all, fans can skip the ticket machine when heading home. “We want people to use public transportation to get to the games,” Durkee said.
Driving: Traffic around the stadium is already heavy, and game days will make it worse. Police will be directing traffic, but prepare for backups on Snelling and University avenues and on the ramps at I-94. Avoid the area if you’re not going to the game.
Parking: Unless you’re a season-ticket holder with parking on nearby surface lots included, good luck. The closest ramps are at Spruce Tree Center at University and Snelling avenues or HealthEast, a few blocks further west. Those lots will hold about 760 vehicles, but it’s first come, first served. The best option is to head to the State Fairgrounds and pay $15. That gets you a ride on a motor coach shuttle to the stadium’s front doors and back. And it’s the only approved lot for tailgating.
Don’t even think of using spots at the nearby Midway Shopping Center, Walmart or Cub Foods, said Sgt. Mike Ernster of the St. Paul Police Department. Signs will be posted telling soccer fans cars “could be towed if fans are seen parking and walking away” to the game, Ernster said.
Borrell asks fans to be good neighbors and not park on residential streets. “We are educating fans not to park in neighborhoods and interrupt [residents’] lives.”
Biking: Roll up right to the gates and park your two-wheeler at one of 400 spots at the stadium.
Ride share: The stadium has designated spots for those arriving by taxi, Uber, Lyft, shuttle and charter buses on the east side of the stadium.
Opening Day is sort of a trial run, a chance to see how things go.
“We will learn a lot from the first game,” Borrell said. “We will adapt and make for a better operation in the long run.”
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