Today marked the unveiling of a massive new installation at the National Sports Center in Blaine, the official Training Ground for Minnesota United FC. The giant soccer ball — seven feet in diameter and weighing nearly half a ton — was installed on a base in front of the Schwan’s Welcome Center and is decorated with representations of 134 youth clubs from Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Minnesota State Referee Committee, the North States Soccer League, the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, and the North and South Dakota and Wisconsin Soccer Associations. Players coming to NSC for tournaments and events will be able to find their program’s name or badge on the ball when they arrive.
“This sculpture is symbolic of the investment being made by Minnesota United FC to support youth soccer at the busiest youth soccer venue in the U.S., the National Sports Center,” said Todd Johnson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. “It’s appropriate that this piece of public soccer art is being dedicated at Schwan’s USA Cup, where over 1,100 teams from all around the world are gathering to speak one common language, the language of soccer.”
NSC is one of the largest soccer complexes in the world and hosts over 1.8 million players of the sport each year, including the annual USA Cup, currently in progress. The Minnesota United Development Academy is preparing for its first season of U13 and U14 boys competition, and the sculpture represents a commitment both to developing homegrown talent for its first team and to cultivating the sport throughout the region.
“Any of the kids who come here to play at NSC, whether for the USA Cup or for the Development Academy or for any youth soccer program, could be the next homegrown star for Minnesota United,” said Minnesota United President Nick Rogers. “But those same players could also become stars of the U.S. national team or leaders within their own community. We see ourselves as a key part of a vibrant soccer culture that brings everyone together and an organization that can be a part of giving promising young players every opportunity to live up to their potential, wherever they’re from.”
“This soccer monument serves as a symbol of the support that Minnesota United, MYSA and NSC provide for the entire region that they serve,” said Steve May, President of MYSA. “That support will provide a sturdy foundation for all the partner organizations that are represented on the ball as they work to make youth soccer better and stronger throughout Minnesota and surrounding states.”
The sculpture was created by TivoliToo of Mendota Heights, the fabrication company behind many public installations across the country and in the Twin Cities, including the Peanuts sculptures that dot Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
This week, MNUFC faces off against New York Red Bulls in a match on Saturday, July 22 at TCF Bank Stadium, presented by Seat Geek. The teams kick off at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are available now at MNUFC.COM or by calling 763.4SOCCER.