A Minnesota United Game is Worth a Road Trip for Soccer Fans
Most new sports franchises take a minute to gain steam. It's even more difficult to attract a following when you start off playing in a stadium that isn't your own. But when you have a start of the art facility and complement it with a quality, on-field product, people will come — and they will come in droves.
During my recent road-trip across the Midwest, my friend insisted we get tickets for a Minnesota United FC soccer match. I'm the furthest thing from a soccer fan. I look the other way in indifference when the World Cup comes around. However, I'm usually game for a new experience, so I took my buddy's word that the MNUFC would put on a show.
And boy, did they ever.
If you're a soccer fan living in the Tri-States, a four-and-a-half hour weekend trip to Saint Paul, Minnesota to see a MNUFC match should be a priority. The club started play in 2017, using TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minneapolis as their home-field. Now, the club calls the new, sparkling Allianz Field their home.
It's a paradise for those who love their soccer, and the new facility is galvanized by a fanbase you'd be led to believe was in-place for a lot longer than five years.
Despite a drizzly, humid Saturday afternoon, Minnesota United put on a show worth attending as they faced the Houston Dynamo FC before a nearly sold out crowd. I could see in my friend's eyes (a Chicago Fire fan) that he wished his hometown team had the atmosphere, energy, and enthusiasm of the MNUFC. It's not hard to see why the Twin Cities are so passionate about this team.
For one, a lot of money has been invested into the team. The ownership group is led by the CEO Of UnitedHealth Group, as well as the Pohlad family, who own the Twins, former Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, former Wild investor Glen Nelson, and his daughter, Wendy Carlson Nelson, of the Carlson hospitality company.
All that money has not only resulted in a scrappy, competitive team but also beautiful facilities. Inside Allianz Field is a huge Brew Hall, equipped with dozens of tap handles, TVs, and places to sit; several eateries, including the Hungry Loon, three large gift shops, and an all-around terrific design.
At a time when inflation is rising and the cost of a sporting event isn't cheap, especially for a family, ample amenities and a quality team in Allianz and MNUFC, respectively, do everything to assure an experience that's worth the money.
A lion's weight of the energy in the building comes from the fan section. The team, known as the "Loons," after Minnesota's state bird, is cheered on by fans who rarely sit, wave scarfs, and bang drums throughout the match. Every time a goal is scored, smoke emits from the stands and engulfs the faithful. Should the Loons win (which they did on Saturday, beating Houston 2-1), Oasis' song "Wonderwall" blares over the stadium speakers.
Even somebody not particularly interested in soccer like myself couldn't downplay the magic of the moment.
If you're a Midwestern soccer fan, you absolutely should trek out to Allianz Field for a Minnesota United match. Allianz Field is located at 400 Snelling Avenue North in Saint Paul. View the team's schedule here.