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Minnesota United 'overdelivered' with unveiling of new stadium

Minnesota United owners and state and local leaders held an official "Scarf Raising Ceremony" to commemorate the opening of the privately-financed Allianz Field soccer stadium in St. Paul, Monday, March 18. From left: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, MNUFC Managing Partner Bill McGuire, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, and Allianz Life CEO Walter White speak with the media. Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — From politicians to dignitaries, Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire heard a string of praises for fulfilling his vision of Allianz Field with his attention to detail during the soccer stadium’s official unveiling Monday, March 18.

“I think I spend over half my time just encouraging people to think bigger,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said. “I’ve never had that problem with Dr. Bill McGuire. We appreciate the big vision.”

When the ensuing open house for the 19,400-seat venue in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood was wrapping up, McGuire lived up to those words. In the premium Field Club, he called over project architect Bruce Miller to talk about how the proximity of the main entrance’s doors was a touch too close, he felt, to an artistic centerpiece table.

“He has such an unbelievable touch and vision for what it is he believes could represent the beauty of big buildings and facilities,” Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said earlier from the podium. “And from the very get-go, this stadium he promised us, he’s over-delivered on (how) it would be an icon in the North.”

During the open house, United center back Brent Kallman of Woodbury stood on the north end’s roof deck and said his biggest takeaway was how cozy he feels the stadium’s confines are. No seat is farther than 125 feet from the field.

Later, down on the field level, United minority owner Ben Grossman looked up at the retro, manual clock/scoreboard and said it was his project highlight. It takes a page from what the club had at its previous home at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

Sellouts

With a season-ticket base of 14,500, United anticipates sellouts for every home game in 2019. That will likely include up to 700 standing-room-only tickets.

The club has put tickets on sale for the first eight games, with a couple hundred still available for each. The home opener is April 13 against New York City FC.

Tickets for the final nine games are expected to go on sale in April.

“The interesting thing will be if we can get it over 20,000 on a game-by-game basis,” United CEO Chris Wright said in late February. “Needless to say, we will be able to announce sellouts at every game.”

At TCF Bank Stadium last year, the Loons averaged 23,902 fans per game.

Digital tickets

United has been preparing for its transition to 100 percent digital tickets at Allianz Field. This comes with the implementation of the MNUFC app on smartphones. The club used VenueNext to create an app and SeatGeek as its ticketing provider.

The club had 7,000 downloads of the app in late February. The 2.0 version of the app will include parking, other transportation options around the stadium and its food offerings.

“We are going to have a group of people … that will be outside of the stadium helping people with making sure the app is downloaded on all of their smartphones, etc,” Wright said. “Then, if what for whatever reason, from a customer service standpoint we have issues with a client, then we will take them to our box office and make sure that they can get into the building quickly and safely.”