As the Dark Clouds gather over Allianz Field in St. Paul, the future of soccer in Minnesota has never been brighter.
Bust out your team scarves and start practicing your loon calls, because after many years of waiting, you can finally see Minnesota United FC take the field at their striking St. Paul soccer stadium, Allianz Field.
The Team & Game Day Experience
Minnesota was without a top-division soccer team for almost 40 years. We had a rotating cast of minor league teams, but none managed to enter the ranks of Major League Soccer until 2017, when Minnesota United FC made the jump from expansion team to fully fledged MLS franchise and kicked off the next chapter of professional soccer in Minnesota.
To say the United joining MLS was exciting for soccer fans is an understatement on par with saying Minnesota has “a couple decent lakes” or that the Mississippi River is “a bit long, come to think of it.”
Excitement pulses through the entire crowd on game days, but it’s most visible (and audible) in the stadium’s official supporters’ section, the Wonderwall, which takes its name from the Oasis song fans sing to celebrate a home turf win.
The steep, standing-only (plus ADA-compliant wheelchair area) supporters’ section is where official fan groups like the Dark Clouds and True North Elite swing their scarves, chant and sing fight songs during the match—but you don’t need to be a member to join the fun. Tickets to the Wonderwall are available and affordable to anyone with a desire to revel in sportsmanlike camaraderie and yell until your throat is sore.
For fans outside the Wonderwall, the game day experience isn’t quite as intense, but it’s just as exciting. Because no matter where you’re seated, the crowd’s scarf-spinning passion and bombastic chants are nothing less than electrifying.
One of the best things about Allianz Field is its heart-of-the-city location in St. Paul, but getting 20,000 people to a stadium in the middle of Minnesota’s capital city will take a little extra planning. Fortunately, the field is served by the Green Line light rail, numerous bus routes and—on game days, at least—park-and-rides from across the region.
The Green Line runs from downtown Minneapolis all the way to downtown St. Paul, with a stop at Allianz Field right in the middle. If you’re driving to the train, park on either end of the line and ride until you reach the Snelling Avenue station. Numerous bus lines also go to or near the stadium, including the A Line rapid bus service that runs between South Minneapolis and Rosedale Center in neighboring Roseville. Download the Metro Transit app to plan your trip and purchase tickets in advance.
Park & Ride
For the tailgating crowd, there’s nothing better than a party in a parking lot and a shuttle bus to the game. And to you, we say: Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Expected to be one of the more popular parking options, the Fairgrounds is selling 15-game park-and-ride packages on a first-come, first-served basis with rates as low as $12 per game. Season ticket holders may be eligible for additional park-and-ride packages.
For a similar approach, Surly Brewing has brewed up a "railgating" package that takes advantage of their close proximity to the Green Line. For $15, you get a reserved parking spot at Surly Destination Brewery, a 24-hour Metro Transit pass and a beverage voucher. Surly railgates will also feature outdoor beer stations and the Surly Food Truck, which offers a variety of hot dogs, brats and sausages. Carpool to the brewery for reduced-rate packages for the rest of your brew crew.
With over 400 bike parking spots available, biking to Allianz Field is another great way to get there. The team already published a list of preferred bike routes near the stadium, so the only thing left to do is turn those cranks and make it happen. Just remember to secure your helmet with your bike—helmets are not allowed into the stadium.
Neighborhood Bars & Restaurants
Whether you’re celebrating a big Minnesota United win, trying to catch an international match from the comfort of a bar stool or looking for the best drag shows in St. Paul, The Black Hart of Saint Paul is your one-stop-shop for all three. In late 2018, Black Hart opened inside the former Town House Bar, formerly the oldest gay bar in St. Paul. But rather than leaving that legacy and community behind, Black Hart decided to remain an LGBTQ+ bar and, as they put it, to also become “the new spiritual home for soccer in the Twin Cities.”
Other neighborhood bars in Midway include Trend Bar, one of University Avenue’s few remaining “true” dives; Burning Brothers, a gluten-free brewery and taproom a few blocks northwest of the stadium; and the Turf Club, a mid-sized music venue and bar with a windowless Clown Lounge (just trust us on this one) in the basement.
Midway is also home to some of the entire region’s best and most diverse dining options
If you’re in the mood for food, Midway is also home to some of the entire region’s best and most diverse dining options, from the Eritrean-Ethiopian-American diner fare at Snelling Cafe, to the much-loved Thai curries at On’s Kitchen, Ethiopian platters atFasika and Ghebre’s, traditional Turkish tastes at Black Sea, spicy Szechuan plates at Peking Garden, traditional Korean food at Sole Cafe and design-your-own pies at Checkerboard Pizza.
For more options, you’re just a short walk, bus or bike ride away from the cluster of restaurants and cafes at Snelling and Selby avenues. Standouts in the neighborhood include gyros, souvlaki and kebabs at The Naughty Greek, fast-casual Middle Eastern food at Zait & Za’atar, decadent pastries at Rose Street Patisserie and, just a few more blocks down Selby, the original Blue Door Pub.
And of course, you can always hop on the Green Line and head east a few stops for more tasty choices. The cluster of restaurants between the Victoria Street and Western Avenue stations is part of the curiously named Frogtown neighborhood, a long-time haven for immigrants and refugees in the Twin Cities that’s now home to some of the best Vietnamese, Thai, Latino and Soul Food restaurants in Minnesota. There are honestly too many great restaurants to name, so we’ll just recommend one thing: bring cash.
Brian Fanelli is a writer and editor for Explore Minnesota. When he isn't writing about life in The North, you'll find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore, biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails or walking his Chihuahua around Minneapolis.
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