(FOX 9) - On Wednesday, Allianz Field in St. Paul will be home to the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team as they take on Honduras and hope to get one step closer to a World Cup appearance.
Allianz Field is an outdoor, open air stadium so preparing it for a soccer game in February comes with some extra challenges. For the last week or so crews have been clearing snow of the field to help get the grass ready for players, clearing snow from the stands, and equipping the bench with heaters to keep players warm.
General Manager of Allianz Field Justin Borrell says the key to getting real, green grass ready for February in Minnesota weather is the 17 miles of tubing under the field. Those tubes are filled with a hot liquid that keeps the soil at a temperature that allows the grass to get green.
"The important part of keeping it the way it looks today is actually to keep the snow out there as long as we could to really keep that natural blanket on it and keep the grass protected from the cold air temperatures which is kind of what you can see happening with the grow covers we have on the field to protect the leaf of the plant from freezing," Borrell said.
U.S. Soccer’s decision to host this qualifier game in St. Paul during the winter was intentional, explains Michael Kammarman with U.S. Soccer. He says home teams get to pick the venue they host away teams at. Usually, teams pick a venue where conditions could work to their advantage, or at least their opponents' disadvantage.
"We here know how to get our winter skin on. We’re not sure Honduras will be able to do the same," Kammarman said.
He says the U.S. team has had some time to get acclimated to cold weather. Just in the last week, they played games in Columbus, Ohio, and in Ontario, Canada where the temperature at the start of the game was 22 degrees.
The more than 19,000 fans expected to brave the cold for Wednesday’s game will be given complimentary hand warmers. Allianz staff says there will also be plenty of hot food and beverages to keep people warm.
The game on Wednesday starts at 6:30. Currently, the U.S. is ranked second in their group. The top three automatically make it to the World Cup.