TCF Bank Stadium – Minnesota United FC
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Scarves Up for The Loons
Minnesota United FC will start playing at the privately financed soccer-specific Allianz Field in 2019. It will be everything a professional soccer club wants in a stadium providing seats within 17 feet of the pitch and no seat further than 175 feet from the pitch. The $150 million stadium will also be the catalyst of a developmental project of the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, turning a blithe area into a walkable district with plenty of open courtyards, greenery, retail shops, office space, and much more.
However, until Allianz Field is ready for play, the club will call TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota home until the end of the 2018 season. The college football venue was built for the university’s football program less than a decade ago and has the capacity of 50,805, but is slimmed down to lower bowl seating only for soccer games.
The temporary venue for The Loons would be for two years and they have made it a rather pleasant place to enjoy a match. It is located on the Metro Light Rail Green line, within walking distance to area pubs and restaurants, and offers a large horseshoe-shaped concourse for easy access and various vantage points for watching the action on the pitch.
Food & Beverage 4
There is an abundance of concession areas offering typical stadium fare. Fans are able to enjoy personal pizzas from Dominos, pulled pork sandwiches from Famous Dave’s BBQ, and the standard hot dogs, brats, nachos, and popcorn. The prices are reasonable at many of the concession stands.
The stadium grills up gourmet hamburgers (Flat Top) and hot dogs (Relish). The highlights are the The Bicycle Kicker burger with jalapeno slaw, sliced tomatoes, chipotle mayonnaise, and pepper jack cheese. The delight of the gourmet hot dogs is “Hot” Dog that is spicy featuring jalapenos, Hot Cheetos, sriracha sauce, and pepper jack cheese. A bonus is the burgers are served with fries and cost $13, while the hots come with kettle chips and cost between $8.50 and $9.
The Panini Shop is a kiosk that features two interesting menu items: The Elvis (peanut butter and jelly, bacon, and banana) and The Pearing Panini (ham, chutney, cheese, and sliced pear). Coca-Cola products are available, domestics are $9.50, premiums are $9.50 to $11, and wine is $9.
Speaking of beer, local favorites include Grain Belt Nordeast and BLU (blueberry beer), Summit Saga and IPA, and Schell’s Firebrick. Surly Hell Lager and Furious IPA are available, and so is their exclusive made for the club Rising North American Pale Ale. However, if you favor the domestics of Bud, Coors, and Miller, they are also found at the game.
Although only the lower bowl is open for games, it does not take away from the ambiance of the game day experience. The crowd is ample and loud enough to make the home pitch intimate for all home games. The horseshoe-shaped concourse features an open area at one end of the stadium, and the colors of maroon and gold are prominent throughout the grandstand along with the upper seating area spelling out MINNESOTA in the same school colors.
The Loons feature three supporters groups: Dark Clouds, Wolf’s Head, and True North Elite. They can be found during matches chanting, cheering, singing, and waving flags for the duration of the game. There is even a code of conduct on how to properly behave in this area for matches.
PK Loon is the club’s official mascot and the feathered friend is found in the stadium providing hugs for the little ones, handshakes for the adults, and pictures for anyone with a camera. The official bird of the state is also featured on the club’s logo that is among the best in the league.
The club has a series of multiple souvenir kiosks throughout the building offering a wide range of team merchandise in the colors of black and sky blue. There is a little bit of everything from a range of socks (19 different styles), t-shirts, scarves, jerseys, caps, and jackets. The kiosks are also very well packed with fans looking to bring home a souvenir or add to their collection.
One truly unique experience is after a Loons win, fans hold up their scarves above their heads and serenade the players with the singing of Oasis “Wonderwall.” The tradition dates back to 2011 when the team, known as NSC Minnesota and playing in the NASL, serenaded the supporters section after the last home match of the year — seven seasons later, the tradition continues.
Another tradition is that some supporters dress up as the Loch Ness Monster AKA Nessie; this also stems from its NSC days. If you say N-S-C fast enough, you get “Nessie.” Both of these traditions are organic and bring together the players and supporters groups a little bit closer.
The stadium is on the campus of the University of Minnesota — a short 15 minute ride back to downtown Minneapolis and just a tad further to downtown St. Paul. There are restaurants within walking distance and a few more further destinations by car worth checking out when in town.
Surly’s Brewing Company has become one of the state’s top tourist attractions. The Beer Hall offers 22-35 beers on tap, a pizzeria upstairs that serves New Haven-style apizza, and a beer garden outside where you can eat, drink, and play a few outdoor games. There is also a restaurant that features chef-inspired cuisine.
Many of the supporters from True North Elite hop on the light rail, get off a few exits towards downtown Minneapolis, and have a beer or two at the Republic, Town Hall Brewery, or Bullwinkle’s Saloon and Funbar. This section of town resides east of the Viking’s U.S. Bank Stadium and all of the restaurants offer outdoor seating.
The Twin Cities also has a lot to see including the Mill City Museum, Minnesota State Museum, Foshay Observation Tower, rooftop bars and restaurants, Mall of America, and Paisley Park Studios. All of them with the exception of Paisley Park is accessible by the light rail system.
One truly fun way to see the city is renting a Nice Ride Bike for 24 hours for six dollars and crossing over the Hennepin Ave Bridge over the Mississippi River onto Nicollet Island. You will be able to view the famous Grain Belt Brewery sign, St. Anthony Falls, and visit the shops and restaurants along Main Street.
Minnesota soccer fans have traditionally followed their soccer teams dating back to the original NASL days. Currently, the club has averaged 21,315 fans per game to TCF Bank Stadium with a waiting list for season tickets at Allianz Field. The supporter groups are a blast and if you happen to share a light rail train ride with them, they will have you cheering all the way back to downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul.
TCF Bank Stadium is accessible by car, mass transit, and bike. Once inside, the large wrap around concourse allows visitors access to restrooms, concession stands, souvenir kiosks, and exits after the game. There are numerous parking lots near the stadium.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket starts at $23 for the supporter club section and tops out at $187 for lower club seating. It should be noted that there are four price points under $35 for tickets and one could search the secondary market for lower price tickets if desired.
Concession prices are reasonable and along the lines at other sporting venues of its kind, merchandise is massive but somewhat steep in price for certain items, then again, some of the shirts are a thing of beauty and unlike any other designs out there in the league.
The price to park a car near the stadium can range from $15-$20 based on the location of the lot, but do what I do, take the light rail train in for $4 for a 24-hour pass; you will have a lot of fun with fans and supporters on the train and it will add to the experience.
The stadium receives a point for the tradition of singing “Wonderwall” after the game. It is a chilling experience to hear the stadium sing in unison and one of the better traditions in the league.
The stadium receives an additional point for its merchandise. The colors, styles, selection, and options are almost endless. I wanted to take home at least five pairs of sky blue and black socks. There are also enough kiosks around the concourse to help with getting your gifts and heading back to your seat.
The stadium receives the third point for True North Elite supporters group who will chant from each end of the light rail concourse after the game. One section of the supporters jumps on a train back to St. Paul, while the other awaits their train to downtown Minneapolis. If you happen to be on the train with a group of them, the revelry will continue until your final stop.
TCF Bank Stadium has served well as a temporary home for Minnesota United FC. It brought the highest level of soccer back to the Twin Cities and proved that the area was deserving of an MLS side. Allianz Field will continue that success next season (2019) and beyond, a true soccer-specific stadium that will be detailed exactly for the fans and supporters of the Loons. It will make watching soccer a much more enjoyable experience and redevelop an area into a social hub of entertainment and sports.
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1001 Marquette Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55403
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