St. Paul soccer stadium challenges our design conventions

Generally speaking, Minnesota architecture can be a boring series of right angles. Folks seem to like it. The style feels like a comfortable pair of uninspiring slippers.

So you might want to think about the design of the new Minnesota United stadium for awhile and not react right away.



Peter Callaghan over at MinnPost has the full story and more pictures.

“The difference between Minneapolis and St. Paul is the difference between pumpernickel and Wonder Bread,” Garrison Keillor once said about the two cities. Stand aside, Minneapolis.

After the more Scandinavian design of CHS Field landed in St. Paul’s Lowertown to the cheers of design experts, the city has a chance to stretch Minnesota’s architectural wings a little bit.

It would’ve been tempting for St. Paul to plop a cliche old-school ballpark into the space. It didn’t. It’s equally tempting to drop a yawner onto an old bus depot along Interstate 94 for a soccer stadium.

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea any more than this new arena in Milwaukee is lighting up the old-timers.


Who’s work is that? Populous. The same design firm that’s designing the soccer stadium.

Clearly, the new stadium won’t be boring.

That’s a step in the right direction.

  • KenB

    Good for St. Paul … if it ends up getting built and looks like that drawing. We have the bird-killing Zygirat on this side of the river.

    • I like the changeable LED lights. Wish the Lafayette Bridge had done that.

      • Jerry

        As someone who drives over that almost every day, I’m just glad I no longer feel like it’s going to fall down. Although I wish they had put a walking path on the downtown side of the bridge too.

      • Brian Quarstad

        Bob, I Photoshoped an early image of the stadium to show what it might have looked like in a tribute to Prince after his passing.

      • MrE85

        The new crypt for the Vikings Dead have those, too. They have already been installed and tested.

    • Brian Quarstad

      Ken, Dr. Bill McGuire loves nature, green spaces and animals. When asked about the bird situation in a public meeting in St. Paul he said he met early on with Audubon officials to make sure his venue was bird safe and continues to work with them as the stadium progresses. He is very conscious and concerned about the facility not effecting wildlife adversely.

  • PaulJ

    Just so long as it doesn’t end up looking like a cheap piece of plastic junk in 10 years.

  • Jerry

    I’m sure it will look amazing next to the Spruce Tree Center.

    • X.A. Smith

      Target Center would look good next to Spruce Tree Center. Hell, a weed-infested gravel lot full of buses looks good compared to Spruce Tree Center.

  • Kurt O

    That area is already crazy to drive in on a plain old Saturday. Not sure the traffic jams will be as pleasant to look at, though.

  • Rob

    Challenging design conventions is fine; I just wish the soccer stadium also challenged the conventions by which taxpayers are stuck subsidizing such facilities, and by which developers are accorded tons of tax breaks.

  • lindblomeagles

    Going to be interesting to see whether residents on the other side of 94 and that old bus garage (along with Midway’s retailers) are up for this.

  • Matthew Finn

    Uninspiring slippers? While I appreciate the metaphor, as a local architect I’m once again reminded that we’re in the midst of a building boom in the twin cities and hopelessly without a paid, unbiased, local architecture critic. I look out over that other stadium in Lowertown – its pushing against convention isn’t about right angles, but about simplicity and circulation. The soccer cloud is as conventional as modern stadiums can be, with precedents as far back as a stadium in Munich from at least a decade ago (complete with changeable LED lights).

    Bob, do you think any of the architecture jargon matters? Or are people just responding to the shapes they drive by?