When Minnesota United joins Major League Soccer they will need to upgrade their training facilities. Some teams Like Atlanta United and Orlando City have reveled plans for new training facilities. Minnesota United will take another approach. They will stay at their current training location, the National Sports Center. While the drive to Blaine, MN may remain the same for players that make the jump, there training fields and facilities will be greatly improved.
Barclay Kruse, chief communication officer for the NSC and liaison to Minnesota United, spoke this week about the upgrades that will take place in the next year. “A big priority for Manny (Lagos) is dedicated training fields for the team.” explained Kruse. “We are still not sure the exact location of those fields on the NSC campus but they will both be A plus quality natural grass.
The logical location for the fields seems to be C-1 and C-2 near the Sports Hall adjacent to the NSC stadium. No matter the location, Kruse said they will be tearing out whatever is there currently and rebuild the fields from scratch.
The southeast end of the lower level of the Sport Hall will also get an entire makeover according to Kruse. Minnesota United will design and pay for a 10,000 square foot area that will include improved home and away team dressing rooms for training and another for referees. The area will also include a new exercise equipment and weight rooms along with an office and rehab/trainers area that would replace the exiting locker rooms and training areas.
Kruse said the NSC will need to replace the existing locker rooms which are currently used for other teams and sports. “The NSC is a non-profit organization and we are not subsidizing a professional sports team,” said Kruse. “If we come to the table with any money it would be with an additional partnership or sponsor.” He said they are willing to work with United to raise additional money to help make this happen.
The NSC spokesperson also said the teams outdoor training field would likely be fenced off but not exclusive. “One of the things Manny and I talked about is when there are a lot of people on campus, for special events, to open it up for public training sessions. That’s a real positive for us, having the obvious public relations value of a MLS team based right here on our campus. Both for us and the city of Blaine.” Kruse said he hopes to have even more fan interaction with Loon players and coaches than in the past, participating in NSC events that use the fields and facilities.
Should the Loons join MLS in 2017, the trick will be timing the renovations for the indoor facilities. United will need to continue to use the home and away locker rooms through the 2016 NASL season which could take them into the middle of November. The dedicated area would then need to be ready for MLS preseason which this year opened on January 22. Another option would be for the team to train in warmer climates while the renovations are completed.
Kruse also mentioned two additional field upgrades where United’s U.S. Development Academy team would possibly train. All MLS teams are required to field teams in that league. Kruse said tentative plans have the Loons DA teams playing home games in the NSC Stadium but defaulted to Lagos for details.