I had a chance to catch up Friday with Scott Ellison, the associate athletic director for facilities at the U of M, on a number of subjects. We mainly chatted about the end of the Vikings’ tenure at TCF Bank Stadium, which will be the focus of a later print Q&A, but I also asked him about soccer.
There are no guarantees yet when Minnesota United will begin play in Major League Soccer, but the two choices are 2017 and 2018. If it’s the former — which SI.com reported recently is seeming more likely — United’s new stadium won’t be complete yet, and they’ll be looking for a temporary home for one season.
There has been speculation about where United will wind up in that case. SI.com noted that Target Field is a possibility for at least some games.
As for TCF Bank Stadium? I asked Ellison about that, and here’s what he said: “Yeah, there have been some prelimary talks, just trying to figure out if it’s possible. With the artificial turf it’s hard. That would be one consideration. And how do you flip the turf from soccer to football. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten — is it feasible based on our schedule?”
That sounds quite preliminary, indeed, but it is interesting that such a contingency is already being discussed before anything is made official on United’s start date.
TCF’s artificial turf is a drawback. When the stadium hosted a major international match between Manchester City and Olympiakos in the summer of 2014, temporary sod was placed on the field. Players complained about the quality, and Ellison noted that it’s “not a good solution.”
“You can't get a sod depth that enables root growth,” he said. “That's the big thing. You have to have a base that stabilizes it.”