The grass is greener in Colorado, at least for Minnesota United.
Team owner Bill McGuire said the Kentucky bluegrass that will cover Allianz Field, United’s new soccer-specific stadium in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood, will be planted this week in Colorado.
“That’s a big deal,” McGuire said Thursday.
Considering the Loons will play their home matches on turf through the 2018 season at TCF Bank Stadium, the grass on the horizon is certainly a quite literal greener pasture for the club.
The privately financed, nearly 19,000-capacity stadium was originally estimated to cost $150 million. But that number rose to $200 million when United announced the naming rights July 25. McGuire said that was mostly just a reality of finalizing plans, but some factors did increase the price. Among them were adding more roof and kitchens for concessions and enclosing the whole stadium in a translucent PTFE laminate mesh skin that will allow the venue to change color thanks to LED lighting.
McGuire said progress was being made with the redevelopment of the Midway Shopping Center property next to United’s stadium site, but he declined to give specifics.
“I think in years to come when we look back on what has been accomplished with the whole site, people will be pretty excited,” McGuire said. “We’re a little more delayed than we wanted to be. We’re a little behind because of some of the issues on the land. And frankly, it wasn’t peoples’ willingness to do something. There were some technical things that you have to honor what they are.”
McGuire said those delays won’t slow construction work, and that the stadium is still set for a 2019 opening.
At the construction site, a central tower crane has taken up residence and the hole for the stadium is about 40 to 50 percent dug, according to McGuire. Most of the soil remediation is complete, and crews have begun to put in walls and rebar in the subsurface.
The steel will arrive in late September or October. “That’ll be the most noticeable thing that occurs,” McGuire said.
Some decisions are still being deliberated, mostly on amenities and design elements, such as colors for the stadium interior. McGuire said the team is considering a roof deck opposite the supporters’ section and several club areas, including one on the north end that would be open to the public beyond just match days and offer a look out onto the pitch. It’s also looking into a scoreboard with a giant clock and hang-up numbers, a throwback to the National Sports Center setup in Blaine when United played in the North American Soccer League.
McGuire said there will be a modest amount of surface parking on the sides of the stadium. As the areas around the stadium develop, more indoor parking spaces or lots attached to buildings will appear, he said. But that all depends on what tenants move in by Allianz Field.
And, well, there’s always public transportation.