A few years ago one of the first things I wrote about soccer, on my personal blog, was a piece about where Minnesota United would play while the now-named Allianz Field was under construction. I put five stadiums in that list NSC, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, US Bank Stadium, and CHS Field. My wish then was to have the team stay at NSC or go to TCF Bank Stadium, and, well, they went to the Bank, which was the best option in a not so great situation.
TCF was realistically the only option after considering all factors, as the Wilf’s threatened a lawsuit over even the thought of a team not owned by them playing at US Bank Stadium. NSC Stadium and CHS Field were too small to realistically consider and with Target Field hosting around 100 baseball games, concerts, and other events each summer, scheduling would be difficult. And while it seems like I’m giving The Bank credit, and our own Eli Hoff even wrote that TCF Bank Stadium wasn’t that bad, in my opinion it was not fit at all for soccer.
I am a former Gopher football season ticket holder and I really do like the stadium in general, even despite some issues that popped up for both soccer and football. First tailgating, which was a big thing for United fans in the NASL days back at NSC in Blaine, really wasn't an issue and personally I never thought it would be. Blaine was a different beast than playing in Minneapolis or St. Paul: there aren't a lot of close restaurants, bars or pubs near NSC. TCF Bank Stadium and Allianz Field don’t have that issue as there are plenty, not only on-campus or nearby but down the Light Rail lines. Tailgating isn’t likely to return at Allianz, but hopefully that won’t be an issue.
Parking on the other hand, was as it always is anytime an event happens on the U of M campus, a nightmare. There was close parking to the stadium but some lots cost as much as $20 or more, not really friendly for someone like myself who doesn't live in the Metro area. Some people, including myself, as chose to take the light rail, which made it chaotic to get out of the stadium after the match was over. These issues I will admit won’t be solved next year as there is even less parking near Allianz Field than TCF Bank Stadium, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Now the stadium itself, for 20,000 people, has more than enough entrances and gates to get in, but when a few were closed during the summer, the amount of people who arrive later towards the start of the match it leads to long lines near kickoff. The other issue, which was very apparent during the Snowpener and 50K to Midway is that the concourse isn’t really built to handle 50,000+ people. Allianz should be better than TCF in that regard.
My final, and largest ,gripe with TCF is the viewing angles for soccer. Due to the stadium being built for football and the pitch (while albeit narrow) running close to the edges of the stands it can create some bad sight lines. Near the top of the supporters section is actually the worst in the stadium I feel personally. As the Wonderwall stands for the entire match it’s hard to see the closest 1⁄4 of the pitch, add in that it faced the setting sun and you have a recipe for disaster.
Next season all of that changes with the opening of Allianz Field. The covered seating bowl means no more setting sun in the eyes of the fans (or press — as I know Eli and others who sat bathed in the sun-filled press box at TCF definitely will agree). Seats will go down to the pitch that is a proper size, giving amazing viewing angles. And the Wonderwall on the South end is the steepest in MLS and will create and intimidating atmosphere and well, wall at that end of the pitch. 2019 certainly will be one to look forward to in many reasons.
How do you think TCF Bank Stadium was for soccer the past two seasons? How excited are you for Allianz Field to open? Sound off in the comments below!