With eye on the future, Thunder goes back to NSC

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 13, 2008 - 1:22 AM

The soccer team will leave James Griffin Stadium immediately and has plans to upgrade the Blaine facility.

Featuring a new ownership group with deep pockets and eyes on the future, the Thunder on Monday took the unusual step of returning to an enhanced version of its past.

After four full seasons -- and two matches this season -- at St. Paul's James Griffin Stadium, Minnesota's professional soccer team announced a move, effective immediately, back to the National Sports Center in Blaine. The Thunder, which played at the NSC from 1990 to 2003, will upgrade the facility by adding seating and removing the track in order to bring fans 80 feet closer to the field.

Barclay Kruse, NSC communications officer, said the NSC and Thunder have agreed to split the estimated $250,000 project cost. Discussions about removing the under- utilized track intensified recently, but not in time for the Thunder's season. Renovations are scheduled to be completed July 1, but all remaining home games will be played at the NSC. The next scheduled home game is May 24.

Manny Lagos, the team president, said the need for a change outweighed the less-than-ideal timing. The organization also faced pressure from the United Soccer Leagues to improve its home field.

"We're the only team in the league that does not currently play in a soccer-specific stadium," Lagos said. "We're the only team in the league that currently plays with football lines. After two games, that was a lot of pressure."

The field at James Griffin Stadium, located on the north side of St. Paul Central High School, was painted for high school football. The Thunder hoped to repaint the field for the summer, but did not get approval from the St. Paul Public School District.

"We had a great rapport with the St. Paul Public School system," Lagos said. "We were trying to upgrade the facility, but the reality is it's very difficult to do."

The Thunder signed a contract to play at the NSC through 2011. St. Paul native Dean Johnson, part of the team's new ownership group that took over in August, said the long-term goal to build a new stadium remains.

In the meantime, the Thunder will receive increased revenue from concessions and parking in Blaine. Kruse said the Thunder, which in the past received no money from either source, will now get 50 percent of the concession revenue. He said the Thunder has the option to charge for parking.

When the Thunder left Blaine after the 2003 season, team officials said moving to St. Paul would be a better option for soccer fans unable or unwilling to trek to Blaine. Lagos said he now believes fans will make the trip.

"I am 100 percent confident that people are going to watch the premier soccer team in Minnesota," he said. "I think people are going to want to drive to experience this environment."

David La Vaque • 612-673-7574

  • THUNDER

    Up next: at Atlanta • 7 p.m. Friday

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati 0 Top 2nd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 0 Top 2nd Inning
Baltimore 0
NY Yankees 0 Top 2nd Inning
Toronto 0
Philadelphia 0 Top 2nd Inning
NY Mets 0
Boston 2 Top 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Miami - T. Koehler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 14 1st Qtr 9:29
Connecticut 0
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close