In a shiny stadium’s opening that’s all about new beginnings, Allianz Field offers a unique nod to the past when Minnesota United plays there Saturday.
In the north end above the Brew Hall pub is a large analog clock and manually operated scoreboard you can’t miss. Both pay homage to Minnesota’s soccer heritage and the creativity and passion of its devout supporters.
The clock and scoreboard are re-creations of ones used at the National Sports Center in Blaine as the seasons changed and the local soccer team did, too, from Thunder to Stars to United.
It’s enough to make longtime supporters’ hearts go pitter-pat.
“I still can’t believe it’s real,” said Bruce McGuire, a noted soccer blogger and Dark Clouds supporters’ group original, “and yet it’s overdue.”
Dark Clouds members attended the 2006 World Cup in Germany and came home long after the U.S. team did — with photos from Hamburg of an unusual throwback clock at FC St. Pauli’s stadium, German soccer’s own Wrigley Field.
The National Sports Center’s electronic clock needed expensive repair. So those fans sketched, on bar napkins, plans to build their own such scoreboard modeled after the one they just saw, at a fraction of the cost for a new electronic one.
If you build it, they will remember. This latest version is an old-time feature that makes both supporters and a player or two nostalgic.
“It’s a good reminder for me and the people who came to the games where we’ve been and where we are now,” said United defender Brent Kallman, who has played for the franchise since 2013. “Every time I look up, it’ll bring back some really good memories and good feelings.”
McGuire noticed on an early architectural rendering what faintly looked like a manual scoreboard. He couldn’t believe his eyes, but later sketches confirmed it.
“They did something to honor the tradition of the team,” McGuire said. “I was really blown away. It’s way too good to be true. It’s a bigger, nicer, better version.”
St. Pauli’s scoreboard was set high and prominently, for all to see. The NSC’s scoreboard was low to the ground in one corner, but it became beloved unless you were a player who wondered just what time it was.
“You’d try to figure out when you can barely breathe how much time is left,” Kallman said. “But I got really used to it. Now I’m sure if I look up there, I’ll instantly know how much time is left.”