ST PAUL, Minn. — Roughly 40,000 thousand sports fans will descend on Saint Paul this weekend, as Allianz Field hosts two very different football games in just 24 hours.
The stadium will host two sell-out crowds for two historic games. The Tommie-Johnnie football rivalry will kick off at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, becoming the first (American) football game ever played at Allianz. Then, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the Minnesota United will make its own history.
"It's the inaugural playoff game ever in Allianz Field. In our first season in Allianz Field," said United CEO Chris Wright. "They'll be playing in front of 20,000 people, sold-out game, on a beautiful Sunday night on national television."
The match will be televised on ESPN, but getting the stadium ready for its close-up won't be easy. After the Tommmie-Johnnie game wraps up, extra crews will work through the night to clean the stadium, remove goal posts, repaint the field and rearrange some special seating.
"We're very, very well prepared. We've been preparing for this for a number of months, and we have a great plan and we will execute beautifully," Wright said. "Now our team has got to get out and play and beat the LA Galaxy."
Though the Loons are under pressure, so is the grounds crew. In addition to repainting the field, the crew will be looking to make any needed repairs to the grass after the football game. Just a few weeks ago, all of the grass had to be replaced because of a drainage issue and the football game will serve as the first test.
"They have worked very, very, very hard to make sure the surface, for both games, is going to be what both games need," Wright said.
For fans who haven't been to Allianz before, Wright asks them to plan to get to the stadium early. There is a clear bag policy for both games, and parking near the stadium is limited. Public transportation, biking or walking is recommended.
Despite the lack of parking, fans looking for a tailgate-like atmosphere will have options. There will be pregame parties on the Great Lawn just north of the stadium for both games. The party starts at 9 a.m. for the Tommie-Johnnie game on Saturday and at 4 p.m. for the United match on Sunday.
"It's an incredible sports weekend in the Midway, with 40,000 visitors coming to watch these two incredible events," Wright said. "It's a great way to sort of end our season."