Grand opening of Minnesota United's Allianz Field
Canopy mesh and LED lights
About 88,000 square feet of translucent, synthetic laminate PTFE wraps the stadium and blocks wind. It also seems to transform with the changing natural light. On stormy days, it absorbs an angry sky, and on a blue-sky day it shimmers. At night, it glows with an LED light show.
A fiberglass mesh is run through baths of pigment and PTFE, a polymer best known for its use in Teflon. That seals and strengthens the mesh. Two mesh layers adhered to a plastic sheet form the stadium’s silvery skin.
LED light show
At night, 1,660 LED light fixtures back-light the skin, combining to generate every color but black. Builders consulted with government transportation officials to ensure the stadium’s glow – no images or animations are projected – won’t distract drivers passing by on I-94.
Seating and Suites
Notice the stadium's four corners remain open. That leaves space to add permanent seats in all four as well as a new deck above the north end's roof deck, if needed. That'll boost capacity from 19,400 to 25,000 including standing room.
Only the best
Three separate suite and club levels on the stadium’s west side will keep 2,000 people fed and their thirsts quenched. All “premium” seating guests arrive through a private entrance into reception areas three floors high.
1. Suites: Eleven “cabanas” with floor-to-ceiling glass that open in back to a long bar, six suites and an owner’s suite accommodate 350 guests.
2. Stadium and Upper 90 Club: Upper 90 is most exclusive of all, all-inclusive with 90 members only. There will be celebrity chefs and a special dish every halftime, too.
3. Loge Boxes: There are 17 with wait service, enclosed by glass on three sides but open to field on the fourth.
4. Field Club: Dramatically lit underneath grandstand. United players parade past 240-plus members to start each game.
The pitch – a three-season playing field
A hydronic heating system, very similar to Target Field’s, can warm the field to wake the grass from dormancy for March games and keep it frost-free and playable into winter. Playoffs, anyone? An advanced drainage system collects stormwater in below-ground tanks and re-uses it.
1. Grow lights: Programmable, portable lights move to help perpetually shaded areas of the field grow.
2. Turf: 97,250 square feet of Kentucky bluegrass was grown in Colorado, harvested last October and trucked to Minnesota.
3. Sprinklers: The industry’s best irrigation heads ensure every blade gets watered appropriately.
4. Root zone: 10 inches deep, a mixture of 93 percent sand and seven percent peat.
5. Heating system: Heated water and glycol, a coolant, run through 27.5 miles of pipes keeping the field at least 55 degrees.
6. Gravel layer: 4 inches of crushed gravel drain water.
7. Compacted sub-grade: 18 inches composed primarily of sand.
8. Perforated drain pipe.
Sing along: Originally conceived by stadium designers to create a wall of people close behind one goal, the now-named Wonderwall — the British band Oasis' 1995 song that United fans sing after victory — is a single-tiered, standing-only, general-admission section with rails. It has a steep, 35-degree incline, a noise-inducing aluminum floor and no seats.
Wall of sound? It will hold more than 2,920 of the team's loudest, most devout fans, mostly, but not exclusively, from supporter groups the Dark Clouds and True North Elite. It might get loud. Fans in the supporters' section sing and chant from the opening kick to final whistle.
Brew hall, roof deck and scoreboad
The north-end pub — initially open four days a week and on game days — aims to become the metro's premier soccer bar, particularly during World Cup years. The ticketed roof deck soaks in the sun and is a nod to rooftop decks that bloom every summer in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. An analog clock/manual scoreboard pays homage to one formerly at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
If you build it …
Only one new metro sports venue — Target Center — opened in the Twin Cities in the 17 years after the Metrodome debuted in 1982. Now Allianz Field is the sixth new one since 2000, a spree during which new homes were built for the Vikings, Saints, Twins, Gophers football team and Wild, too.
Sources: MN United, Populous, Mortenson
Text by Jerry Zgoda • Graphics by Raymond Grumney, Mark Boswell and Billy Steve Clayton