ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - After more than a year of construction and at least $250 million in private funding, the Minnesota’s official home of Major League Soccer is almost complete.
Once you step foot inside St. Paul's new Allianz Field, it isn’t hard to sense why it's expected to make Minnesota an international destination.
“It really, really smells awesome,” said Mortenson Project executive Greg Huber, referring to the aroma of fresh sod that filled the air Tuesday.
Crews hauled what will amount to a whopping 500 tons of sod to create the home field for the Minnesota United Football Club.
A fresh turning point for professional soccer in Minnesota that arrived by way of 36 semis this week. The large effort rolled out by the craft workers marked another milestone in the stadium’s construction.
“The goal was to get it in by October 31, to have most of it done by October 31, so we’re going to reach that goal,” said Terry Johnson, the project field superintendent.
“We’re well positioned to have a great playing surface for the Loons,” chuckled Huber with pride.
The project executive’s sense of satisfaction also comes with a tinge of relief. After all, it took 14 and a half months of construction to get to this far. Not to mention, the pressure to revitalize St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood with a brand new 100,000-square foot Allianz Field mounted after several recent weeks of relentless rainfall.
“The pitch is the most important thing in the construction,” Huber added. “The grass that we have was grown in Colorado on a specialty plot and it was seeded in a way such that the roots grow horizontally which is a major innovation so that it becomes a tougher grass much quicker.”
The soccer field’s fresh plot will be nurtured by an “in-floor” heat system. Which only adds to Huber’s confidence that the project will deliver on its promise.
“It’s extremely iconic and it’ll be a venue that everybody understands, looks at, remembers and really identifies St. Paul with going forward,” said Mortenson.
On the other hand, there’s the demand.
“There’s a lot of soccer fans in the state of Minnesota,” Johnson assured.
The proof showed up Sunday when a record 52,242 people turned out for Minnesota United’s sendoff at TCF Bank Stadium. Fewer than half of those fans will fit inside the new digs, as the seating capacity at the new stadium is just short of 20,000.
It won't be just the Loons taking the field. In June, the U.S Men’s Soccer team will play at Allianz Field.
“It really elevates the importance of the game, the importance of the place of the game in St. Paul,” he said.
Around the world, there are seven other Allianz fields, but this one is already a beacon and the only one in North America.
“They’re really providing an amazing gift to the people of Minnesota,” said Huber.
By the time the project is complete, approximately 2,000 people will have worked on constructing the new Allianz Field. The gates to Minnesota’s new cathedral of soccer will open in the spring.