Minnesota United announced plans Friday to construct a massive sculpture outside its under-construction Allianz Field intended to honor original season ticket holders from the 2017 season.
Dubbed the Itasca Society — with a nod to Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River — these initial season-ticket holders will be represented by name on a 65-foot wide metal U-N-I-T-E-D statue outside the new stadium when it opens in 2019. Each of the six letters in the sculpture will be 12 feet high.
“It was really important to us because in this sport I think more than in almost any others, the fans are the experience,” Minnesota United managing partner Dr. Bill McGuire said Friday. “The club is about fans. … I think it’s going to be really cool.”
Other highlights from Friday’s unveiling, which took place at Allianz headquarters just west of downtown Minneapolis:
*McGuire said stadium construction is on schedule and perhaps even ahead of schedule. The vertical steel for the structure should be completed by January, he said. Parts of the roof should start to become visible after that. “It’s really moving along,” he said.
*United sporting director Manny Lagos gave an update on the organization’s offseason roster construction. The Major League Soccer playoffs concluded a week ago, with Toronto FC winning the MLS Cup.
“We’re excited about core, and we’re excited about the players we’ve gone through the process of keeping,” he said. “We’re very calculated now about how we want to add to this core. We want to make sure we’re really getting better and building on the depth of what we maybe didn’t quite have last year.”
Asked specifically about what he liked and didn’t like about the 2017 roster, Lagos said: “We have to get better defensively. We have to commit to saying we’re going to grow the group of players we really liked but be honest that we still gave up a massive amount of goals. For a team that wants to be competitive and wants to make the playoffs, we have to make sure that part of the field is shored up. … Sometimes your best defense is making sure you have quality players who can absorb the pressure of the game with their touches and decision-making or it’s through players who frankly make a difference in the final third in ways that maybe we didn’t quite have this year.”
Lagos said the club will have signings to announce as the offseason progresses but the organizational model is trying to remain patient while staying aggressive.
“We’re in a roster-building phase for the club, and we have to get better,” he said.