The grassy area known as the Great Lawn just north of Allianz Field is watered by an underground sprinkler system, but on game days, it’s beer that will be flowing.
Designated an entertainment district by the city of St. Paul last month, fans will be able to enjoy beer and wine before they enter the stadium for games and events.
A hearing about the two ordinances, one to create the Great Lawn Entertainment District and another to allow alcohol sales, lasted just over a minute without anyone from the public speaking up.
Submitted to the city by the Allianz Field food vendor, Delaware North, the plans call for eight concession tents selling beer and wine flanking the field across Shields Avenue from the stadium, as well as food trucks and a team merchandise booth.
Fans won’t need to scan a ticket or have their bags searched to enter the area. Security will work to ensure that no one gets too rowdy or tries to leave the area with a drink in hand.
Jake Fleming, owner of Trend Bar on University Avenue across from Allianz Field, isn’t worried that the new entertainment zone will hurt business. He said game days last season brought double the sales, and his staff often had to turn people away because the bar was at capacity.
“If they keep their stadium prices, then I have no concern at all,” said Fleming. “You have seen a total change from last year at this time compared to now.”
Since he bought the bar more than two years ago, Fleming has catered to the Minnesota United FC faithful, repainting the walls with team colors and adding team scarves behind the bar. The added business could lead him to expand, adding a kitchen to a bar that currently has limited food options.
He said he is excited about the possibility of more events at the stadium that will bring in more business.
Brandon Long, executive director of the Union Park District Council, said he hopes the area will be used for farmers markets and music and cultural events, in addition to stadium events.
“That is the context for all of this: As we develop and see what the stadium brings, how can we benefit from that as a community and not just on game day?” Long said.
At the Midway Saloon on University Avenue, owner David Tolchiner said he thinks the creation of the entertainment district is good for everyone. He owns several of the properties on the block.
“We’ve got a lot invested in the area and remain very confident that the area is going to warrant those investments,” he said.
The Minnesota United have 18 regular-season games at Allianz Field this year. The season kicks off March 15.
Dylan Anderson (email@example.com) is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.