Stadium Talk: A One-On-One With Minnesota United Principal Owner Bill McGuire

by on 9 August 2017

The Union Park District Council hosted a stadium information session in July. In attendance was Dr. Bill McGuire who spoke at the event. Afterwards, McGuire took a few moments to conduct a rare interview concerning the Minnesota United stadium planning and construction process to date.

FiftyFive.One: We’ve been told by several architects that often the most successful construction projects, especially stadiums, are those with an owner or leader of a company who is very present and involved with the planning and execution. We have also been told that you would fit that description.

Bill McGuire: I suppose that’s true. It adds another layer or viewpoint and thought from the people you have hired to do the job. That team you hired may not have the same prospective. That is probably particularly true with an ownership group like ours that has particular leanings. And it’s not just a technical thing. For instance we might ask how the stadium will fit into the community. Or, how this might affect housing.

If you were to break down your work week, what percentage is spent on the stadium?

BM: A lot. I try to keep abreast of many other things as well, but you are either involved or thinking about it. I’d say 50 percent of my time is spent on the stadium. But we are also thinking about training facilities. So you have these facility things. Really, there are no clear lines if I can put it that way. It’s not just what you build. It’s how do take care of people once they are in there for a game? That involves things like what sort of food do you serve. What sort of drinks? Do you serve your drinks in cups or a can. All of those things impact what sort of agreements you have. How fast do they move into the stadium? How fast do they move out? With all the tentacles it’s hard to make it a pure bifurcation. But it’s a lot. It’s a big part of my day.

You’ve done a lot of difficult things in your life. The negotiations to get this stadium deal done has been very complex…

BM: It’s hugely complicated.

…with the legislature, the City of St. Paul, the Port Authority, Metro Transit and…

BM: …and the fans and the people that want to do it and those that don’t want it. It’s very complicated, much more complicated that I would have ever thought.

What have you learned from that?

BM: I’ve learned that a lot of people want good things to happen that have good insight and good input. That it’s difficult, depending where you stand, to consider all the other sides of it. There is a need to try to bring the pieces together and try to help each party understand all the other issues that have to be considered rather than just a singular view. And it’s difficult.

Is this the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

BM: It’s very close. Relatively I can’t say that it’s more difficult than something else but it certainly at any one time it has had more challenges than… it’s difficult. I know I keep saying that. [McGuire laughs.]

The easiest thing in life is to do something you have complete control over and the only person that matters is you. The more people involved, the more the different entities the more things that have to be considered and the more difficult it is.

Also, you can never get it 100-percent perfect. Everyone is not going to be fully satisfied no matter what you do.

Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?

BM: Well, I’d like to be but I guess I get a little reality tossed in there as well. But yes. I want everything to be as good as it could be.

Construction on Minnesota United’s Allianz Field continues to make good progress and is expected to be ready for the 2019 MLS home opener.

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