This should be about it. This should be the end of the stadium-building business in the Twin Cities for the next couple of decades. And by appearance, the best might have been saved for last, with the unveiling of Allianz Field on Saturday afternoon with Minnesota United taking on … well, it’s another MLS team, I’m certain of that, and it’s sure to be a thrilling fixture on the new, grassy pitch.
I took a look at the $250 million soccer yard late this week. There’s not a bad seat in the house, including those for the 2,900 goofballs who want to stand in an end zone and sing soccer ditties for the entire game.
Big macho deal — standing for a soccer game, which takes what, two hours? If you’re so hardy, Bruce McGuire and pals, I challenge you to go to a Twins game and stand through an entire Andrew Vasquez pitching appearance.
United owner Bill McGuire (no relation to superfan Bruce) and his partners also paid the full tab for construction, which makes this not only a spectacular place but the best deal in our entire orgy of building stadiums and arenas in the first two decades of this millennium.
Chris Wright, long charged with running the Timberwolves business operation, went back to his future with soccer in September 2017 to become United president. He was sitting in the press box with the most content look of any sports executive in these parts since …
Well, since Les (Wants More) Bagley pulled off the greatest stadium deal in history for the Vikings and his boss Zygi Wilf, and received that big bonus check for his wondrous work.
Wright pointed to various outstanding features in this soccer Valhalla on Thursday — including the Brew Hall that will be open four days a week as well as gamedays — and said:
“The word is out on how great this is, and we’ve had representatives from soccer clubs everywhere coming to see it. Almost every team in a major league in the world that’s in the process of getting a new stadium is coming to look at what Minnesota now has.”
Wright was eagerly awaiting the chance to announce Team USA’s opponent in its Gold Cup opener on June 18. Turns out it will be Guyana, best known to my generation for the homicidal maniac Jim Jones, but that was a long time ago.
I’m confident the Guyana Golden Jaguars will give a fine accounting of themselves, but let’s face it:
We were all hoping the USA opener would be a revenge match against Trinidad & Tobago, the plucky islanders who knocked the Yanks out of the 2018 World Cup. To guard against that happening in the future, FIFA is increasing the number of teams in future World Cups from 32 to 48.
If you can’t win your way in, expand your way in.
The NHL and Norm Coleman, then the St. Paul mayor, provided the momentum for our 21st century willingness to build stadiums and arenas. Coleman used the dual pitch of bringing back big-league hockey and St. Paul-deserves-something angle to convince the Legislature to sign off on the required hockey arena.
Xcel Energy Center opened with a Wild exhibition game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Sept. 29, 2000. The return of the NHL and the arena were a runaway success from the start, and that’s the case two decades later, even if the Stanley Cup remains an object that Minnesotans playing with other teams bring back to their hamlets.
The nonbelievers in public dollars for privately owned sports teams remain out there and angry, but for the most part, what the Wild and the X did for St. Paul showed a sizable share of Minnesotans that arenas can be more boon than boondoggle.
The Gophers opened TCF Bank Stadium for football on Sept. 12, 2009, with sizable state funding; the Twins opened Target Field on April 2, 2010, with considerable Hennepin County funding; the independent Saints opened CHS Field, the boutique ballpark, with largely public money on May 21, 2015; the Vikings opened U.S. Bank Stadium, the greatest gift ever for a Minnesota sports team, on Aug. 28, 2016; and the Timberwolves unveiled a Target Center with a $140 million remodel on Oct. 20, 2017.
There also has been a women’s hockey arena, Ridder Arena (2002); and a new Gophers ballpark, Siebert Field (2013); and a remodeled Minneapolis Armory that’s great for boxing; and sparkling practice facilities for the Wolves/Lynx, Wild and Gophers; and now there’s Zygitown in Eagan for the Vikings.
This has to be it. We’re done, right?
Or, maybe not.
It was announced Friday that Maturi Pavilion is going to be completely remodeled with private funds. And on the other side of the wall, John Cunningham, a deputy athletic director, recently told the Rotarians in Owatonna that the Gophers are working on a plan to modernize Williams Arena.
Apparently, a white court wasn’t enough.