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Sneak Peek: Behind the Scenes at Allianz Field

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We were invited for a look at the remarkable progress that has been made at the Loons’ new stadium.

This article has been reposted as a part of Allianz Field Week.

It is displayed below in its original form.

If you haven’t taken a drive near I-94 and Snelling, you might want to. Odds are you’ll see something new there.

Allianz Field is quickly taking shape in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. Media members were invited to take a behind-the-scenes tour and observe the progress on Thursday.

Minnesota United’s principal owner Bill McGuire accurately summed up the sight of the stadium’s framework. “It’s great,” he remarked. “It’s architecturally beautiful.”

If the ground is beautiful with only 40 percent of construction complete, the final product will be nothing short of stunning. That final product is now only a year away from being finished. Mortenson Construction aims to turn the stadium over to United one year from Thursday, upon which the club will hand control to the city of St. Paul.

Greg Huber, a construction executive with Mortenson, spoke fondly of the stadium and its features. “This project is on schedule and on budget,” he said. “We’re about 50 percent through structural steel and about 60 percent through pre-cast construction.”

Minnesota United/The Pioneer Press

All structural steel will be placed by mid-June, with seats to be installed—beginning with the formidable wall for supporters in mid-April—in July. But the biggest milestone for the construction crew will be installing the grass, which is currently growing in Colorado, on October 17th. “It’s actually a specialty sod,” explained Huber. “We put sand on top of plastic and the sod grows on top of that plastic so when we strip it we’re not cutting the roots.”

The pitch isn’t the only technical element of Allianz Field though. The shell which will envelop the outside of the stadium will arrive from New Hampshire in May. The fabric is a unique blend of materials. “The skin was chosen for its durability,” said Huber. “It’s considered a super-fabric.”

The material is translucent, which means it has some holes to allow light through. There is an outer lining covering those holes that is made of PTFE, which Huber explained is essentially teflon. This blend is similar to what was used for the roof of the Metrodome, but it comes with more durability. The design involves the skin being at or near a vertical angle so that snow will not accumulate on it. Huber also points out the ability of the canopy to trap sound inside the stadium, enhancing the atmosphere while also helping to keep noise from affecting the surrounding area.

Huber shows a sample of the outer canopy.

With upwards of 200 people working on the stadium each day, the Mortenson crew is advancing at a rapid rate. The team has occasionally struggled with the difficulties brought on by a Minnesota winter, but it can’t stop the progress. “We knew that we were going to be building structural steel during the winter,” said Huber. “We’ve got a lot of tough people.”

The group was fully prepared for the winter, and they built in a safety valve in case they need to play catch-up. Huber reported a strong work rate in the summer, and crews can add work on Saturdays if need be.

The Mortenson team has also been conscientious of utilzing local materials where they can. Glass used in the stadium comes from Owatonna and all of the precast was fabricated locally.

The view from the supporters section, which will be right on top of the goalkeeper.

If fans aren’t excited about the new stadium yet, there’s plenty of reason to be. Allianz Field will use designs and techniques that are completely new to American stadiums. Huber points out the outer canopy as something that is different to say the least. “It will be a trend I think that we’ll see more and more throughout the nation,” he believes.

McGuire is mostly excited to see this project come to fruition. “Pictures are one thing. Tangible things that you can reach out and touch and really participate in I think brings a whole new dimension,” he said.

Huber also is a firm believer in the purpose of Minnesota United and Allianz Field. “Their product is all about the fans.”

We took our fair share of photos and gave a few live looks at Allianz Field. Check them all out in one place below!