ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A new era for Minnesota United kicks off in just over a month as the team will open brand new Allianz Field. With a new stadium comes an influx of fans and, starting this weekend, they’ll have their own bar to call home.
The MLS season starts Saturday, but United won’t have its first home game for a few weeks.
Still, excitement is already building about the economic energy the stadium is expected to bring to the area.
“We’re really excited to show off what we’ve been doing with this bar,” said Wes Burdine, of the Black Hart of St. Paul.
For years, the Town House was the oldest gay bar in St. Paul, but now it has a new owner, a new name and is hoping to attract a new clientele.
“I’m a soccer fan, fanatic, writer about soccer, podcaster. I knew that all the people I’ve known for years in the soccer community would want a place to be at and this bar happened to be right,” Burdine said.
Burdine bought the bar, which he’s renamed the Black Hart, after he learned that Allianz Field was going to be built about 1,000 feet away in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. He’s not the only one who believes the new home of Minnesota United will kick start a new round of development in the neighborhood.
“It started with light rail,” said Chad Kulas, of the Midway Chamber of Commerce. “If we didn’t have light rail, we wouldn’t have Allianz Field. As soon as the announcement was made about Allianz Field, we heard from people who said they were moving in to the neighborhood because they wanted to live near the stadium and all the excitement.”
The Midway Chamber of Commerce says one local developer is already planning a soccer-themed housing and retail complex called “The Pitch” across the street from the stadium.
While another property management company has bought a half dozen buildings on the 1500 block of University Avenue in the hopes of turning it into an entertainment district.
“When a game has 20,000 people coming to it, it’s inevitable people are going to be paying more attention to it,” Kulas said. “And once they come to the area for a game, they are hopefully going to come back.”
Burdine has spent the last six months giving The Black Hart a new front window, floors and focus. He’s also working to bring in the bar’s customers, old and new, together in the refurbished establishment.
“It’s an amazingly diverse neighborhood bar and we want people to feel comfortable in it,” Burdine said.
The Black Hart is scheduled to open Saturday. There will be a ribbon-cutting, a watch party for United in Vancouver and a drag show to cap off the night.