After a very successful second season for the NPSL club at Augsburg University’s multi-use Edor Nelson Field in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis, the club was told during their year-end talks with the school that the field would be unavailable in 2018 due to construction.
“We had a great season at Augsburg University and they were a great host,” co-founder Dan Hoedeman reflected. “The location was great, stadium was awesome.”
Specifically, the construction would impact the locker rooms and bathroom facilities, which would make the field fail to meet the NPSL minimum standards for stadiums.
The team began a wide search of fields, starting with stadiums in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Crows found themselves stymied by a mixture of bureaucracy, confusing jurisdictional issues, and a lack of availability.
At Augsburg they had found a sympathetic ear, a place interested in the team’s mission and desire to both put forth great soccer as well as connect with the local community. That connection to the team’s mission proved to be the exception rather than the rule as they worked to find a temporary home for the 2018 season.
All told, they contacted at least 40 different stadiums in the Twin Cities area to try and find a field that would meet NPSL standards.
No one managing a grass field was willing to rent it, as the summer is the chance for the grass to be regrown and repaired for the fall school season.
The turf fields in Minneapolis and St. Paul were either fully booked by a number of different amateur and recreational teams and leagues, or proved to be too near impossible to reserve due to the byzantine process to request them.
Turns out, there’s a reason a number of those fields in Minneapolis end up unused for much of the summer as there are processes in place that make it very hard to reserve them.
“In a city [like Minneapolis] with otherwise such great facilities, it just kills me to drive by these beautiful facilities all locked up and no one on them,” Hoedeman shared.
In the end, it would be a school in the northwest suburbs that will be home to the Crows for the 2018 season.
Minneapolis City is not the first club to have to find temporary housing due to construction, and they are certain not to be the last.
English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur are currently at Wembley Stadium while their new stadium is constructed. Closer to home, Minnesota United FC is playing its first two seasons in TCF Bank Stadium while Allianz Field is built in St. Paul.
Hoedeman is the first to admit that the stadium at Osseo High School does not meet all the requirements that the team had for a location.
“We’ve tried to be really conscious of trying to make sure [the field] has public transportation links or connection to availability to bike to the games and all that. Osseo doesn’t have those like you had in Cedar Riverside [at Augsburg].”
With the NPSL season fast approaching, City ultimately had to make a decision to ensure the season would go forward and Osseo was the best and basically only option.
“In Osseo, athletics and community ed work together. They got in the same room with us and we made it happen,” Hoedeman explained, adding, “they were one of the only ones to regularly get back to us when we called.”
For Hoedeman, playing out in Osseo is not all bad. The team will have a chance to connect with a new group of fans and soccer teams, including Maplebrook, a youth club in the area. Coincidentallly, it happens to be named after the great-grandfather of one of the City players, Kevin Hoof; a fact the team found out after the fact.
In addition, there is talk amongst the supporters group, the Citizens, to put together a “Murder Bus”, named for the word for a group of crows. The bus would take fans from a location in Minneapolis to Osseo High School, much like how the Dethloon Express would take fans from the Nomad to Blaine when Minnesota United FC played there.
The team is planning on this to be a short-term solution, and are planning on being in Minneapolis for 2019.
There is a bit of irony in Hoedeman and the club working so hard to find a suitable ground for the 2018 NPSL season: their last competitive match was in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup qualifying rounds in suburban Rochester, NY and took place at a field without bathrooms.
Such is the life for clubs and fans in the lower levels of US soccer. Nothing is ever easy.
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Tags: Minneapolis City SC