The National Sports Center (NSC) and Minnesota United FC formally announced a partnership that will cement the NSC as the home of Minnesota United’s Training Ground and the home of soccer in Minnesota. The partnership will provide far-ranging and long-term support to soccer at all levels in the State of Minnesota, from youth to the professional level.
In continuing to make its home at the NSC, MNUFC has built a world-class locker room and robust training facility on the campus, including two dedicated full-sized natural grass training fields, an indoor training space, players’ lounge, workout room, treatment rooms and a full-service cafeteria. Additionally, the NSC offers offices for the sporting side of MNUFC — coaches from first team to the Development Academy as well as for training and player operations staff.
“This is a huge day not only for our club and for the National Sports Center, but also for soccer at all levels in Minnesota,” said MNUFC Sporting Director Manny Lagos. “This facility has been a pillar of soccer in Minnesota for decades. This facility and its staff align perfectly with our values and goals as a club to grow the sport of soccer in Minnesota. This facility as it now is incredible and this partnership allows us as a group to continue to build this into one of the best professional and amateur sports facilities in the world. This is just the beginning of creating a vision for the National Sports Center to create an environment for soccer at all levels from youth soccer to amateur soccer to our academy and all the way to the first team. This is an incredibly exciting day. This partnership opens up a world of possibilities for this club to be special.”
Currently, Minnesota United’s Development Academy fields teams at the U13, U14 and U15 levels. Those teams practice and play their home games at the NSC.
MNUFC will provide financial support to youth soccer programming at the NSC, especially USA CUP, the NSC’s flagship soccer tournament. Beginning in 2019, Minnesota United will become a presenting sponsor of USA CUP. Held each July, USA CUP is by far the NSC’s largest soccer tournament. In 2018, the event attracted 1,150 teams from 20 states and 20 countries.
In addition to financial support, MNUFC will be heavily involved in supporting USA CUP through player appearances, fun soccer activities, instructional opportunities for USA CUP coaches, and tours of their locker room for selected USA CUP teams.
“Since the announcement in 2015 that MNUFC was moving up to Major League Soccer (MLS), the NSC has worked tirelessly to keep the team at the NSC,” said NSC Executive Director Todd Johnson. “This is a significant investment on the part of MNUFC to upgrade and grow youth soccer at the NSC. We visualize a time when the youth players who come to the NSC from around the world will make MNUFC their favorite American club, creating new Loons fans all over the world.”
“Working to develop the sport on a statewide level is part of the mission and values of our club,” said MNUFC CEO Chris Wright. “Allianz Field is where we play all of our home games and our incredible fans are treated to the best soccer experience in North America. The National Sports Center has been, and will continue to be, where our players go to work every other day of the year. This is a monumental day for soccer at all levels across Minnesota and cements the National Sports Center as the home of our training facility for years to come.”
This is a long-term partnership, covering 15 years, with the opportunity for multiple renewals.
MNUFC and the NSC office staff will also work together to focus on growing USA CUP through increased international and visiting U.S. team participation, sponsorships, and unique partnerships and outreach in the soccer community across the globe.
The ties between MNUFC, the National Sports Center and USA CUP run deep. Minnesota United’s sporting director Manny Lagos played in the original USA CUP in 1985, and then played and coached for several professional teams that played home games at the NSC. Current MNUFC players Brent Kallman and Eric Miller are also USA CUP alumni. Minnesota United’s CEO, Chris Wright, was the original executive director of the NSC when it opened in 1990.
Several of the team’s traditions and features at their new home at Allianz Field have their historical roots at the National Sports Center. The singing of “Wonderwall” after home victories dates back to the NSC Minnesota Stars NASL championship season in 2011. Another unique feature of the new stadium is the throwback analog clock in the north end, above the Brew Hall. The clock is a tribute to a similar analog clock at the NSC Stadium, which the NSC had installed in 2010 at the suggestion of some members of the Dark Cloud’s supporters’ group.