On several recent nights, still-to-be-finished Allianz Field has glowed blue, its LED lights making it look like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie.
On Tuesday, looking out over the stadium bowl toward the supporters section at the north end of the stadium, it wasnt hard to imagine what this gray-sheathed stadium will be like when its 20,000 voices roar.
The day is swiftly approaching when Allianz not only becomes the new home for Minnesotas professional soccer team but the centerpiece of a transforming neighborhood.
On track for substantial completion by Feb. 22, 20,000-seat Allianz Field is substantially farther along than just four months ago.
Thanks to workers logging 225,000 hours over a productive summer, the stadium is 75 percent complete, said Greg Huber of Mortenson Construction.
Sixty percent of the stadiums seats have been installed. Seventy percent of the stadiums fabric sheathing panels like giant gray shrink wrap clinging to outer walls are up. LED lighting, for the field and behind the sheathing, is in. So too is the giant scoreboard at the noth end, right above the supporters section where a massive loons head is being painted where 2,800 of the teams most die-hard fans will bounce around all game.
Just this summer, Huber said, workers completed 25 percent of what the team is calling perhaps the unique stadium, well, anywhere.
Theres really nothing like it in the world, said Bruce Miller of Populous, the stadium architect.
Much of that can be attributed to the stadiums Space Age skin. The gray fabric sheathing, made of a material called PTFE that has been used to make conveyor belts but never before on a stadium, is meant to keep the worst of wind and unfriendly Minnesota weather off fans. All while trapping the decibels they produce inside the stadium, to rattle the other team.
Work continues on Allianz Fields interiors concourses, locker rooms, concession stands, restrooms and press box. Sod is scheduled to be laid on the floor of the bowl October 17.
It really feels like youre in a building now, Miller said.
While the stadium will soon be Minnesota Uniteds home for at least 17 games a year, team officials hope Allianz Field will host other events, including occasional concerts. United team owner Bill McGuire said once Allianz Field is complete, he hopes it can host high school soccer matches. McGuire said he is also interested in hosting Gophers soccer matches.
For the past several months, neighbors too have been watching with anticipation as Allianz rises in the Midway of St. Paul. Jake Fleming, soon-to-be owner of the Trend Bar, said hes pumped about the stadiums potential to help rehabilitate the Trends reputation. Hes spent months cleaning the place, bringing in more daylight (windows were covered with cardboard) and hiring more security to help erase the Trends often-murky reputation. Fleming, whose wife Katie is co-owner, said the plan is to rename the Trend Katies Tavern and a soccer fan hangout.
Its perfect timing, Fleming said of the upcoming completion. I hope. Im praying.
Fleming said expects to complete the purchase of the bar in the next few months. The stadium, and a changing clientele away from hard-core daily drinkers (and users of other chemicals), is already having an impact on the look and feel of the area, he said. About a dozen people were eating, watching television or sipping a beverage in the Trend early Tuesday afternoon.
When we took it over five months ago, there was nobody in here at all, Fleming said. Were trying hard.
Seeing Allianz Field every day also has Fleming willing to stretch his sporting appetite beyond football, hockey and baseball.
I dont know anything about soccer, he said. But Im looking into it. Im trying my best.
McGuire praised the look and feel of the stadium, which his ownership group is paying more than $150 million to build, saying a lot of the inspiration for this is Minnesota.
With undulating lines mimicking lakes and rivers, and translucent sheathing that will allow a Northern Lights glow to show through, Allianz Field will stand on its own as the finest soccer-specific stadium in North America, McGuire said.
Staff writer Megan Ryan contributed to this report.
James Walsh 612-673-7428