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Vikings deal influenced Gophers logos staying on field for most United games

August 06,2017 04:16

Ricker said the U understood how the best soccer fields are sans logos and said it compromised in allowing green paint over the maroon and gold marks during the soccer club's bigger TV games. United's home game against the MLS Cup champion Seattle ...


The visibility of Gophers insignias on TCF Bank Stadium’s field turf during Minnesota United home matches is a result of a University of Minnesota policy change after their experience with the Vikings.
When the Vikings used the college campus stadium as a temporary home in 2014-15, the NFL franchise and the University of Minnesota agreed that the Gophers would use paint to switch between the block “M” and the Vikings head logo at midfield. They also switched the “Minnesota” in the end zones between the two teams’ primary colors.
During its partnership with the Vikings, the school found the painting process to be labor intensive, and through the life of the agreement, the field became less aesthetically pleasing when the Gophers played, according to University of Minnesota athletics department spokesman Jake Ricker.

So, when the university worked out its two-year, at least $2 million contract with the Major League Soccer expansion franchise to rent the stadium, the maroon and gold “M” at the 50-yard line and the “Minnesota” in the end zones remain visible at all United games, except for up to five nationally televised games.
Ricker said the U understood how the best soccer fields are sans logos and said it compromised in allowing green paint over the maroon and gold marks during the soccer club’s bigger TV games. United’s 4-0 loss to the MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders on Saturday night aired locally on My29.
A contributing factor in the University of Minnesota’s decision to limit paint on its logos was the volume of United’s games. The Loons will play 34 regular season MLS games over two years at the stadium before its soccer-specific arena is scheduled to open in St. Paul for the 2019 season. The Vikings played about 22 games, including preseason and playoffs, at TCF Bank Stadium.
This season, 14 of United’s home games will have been played before the Gophers open their season on Aug. 31. A similar number of Loons games are expected to be played before the Gophers’ 2018 season.
Per the contract between the university and United, the Loons will provide the equipment for the field marking work and will cover all expenses. The school and United “shall work cooperatively to prepare the field,” the agreement said.
The University of Minnesota installed a new turf in spring 2016, which included a thinner white stripe on the football field’s sideline — which is painted over for each United game in order to accommodate the wider soccer field. U workers are conducting all the paint work, Ricker said.
At the end of the contract, “United agrees to pay for the cost of replacing the soccer turf with new football turf and permanent markings selected by the University.” The cost of the new turf shall not exceed $735,000, the contract said.
Meanwhile, United has begun construction on Allianz Field, its privately funded $200 million stadium, which will rise on the northeast corner of Interstate 94 and Snelling Avenue in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood.

Andy Greder covers two varieties of football — Minnesota Gophers and Minnesota United, aka the club embarking into Major League Soccer this year. Since joining the Pioneer Press full time in November 2013, he’s also covered the Timberwolves as a beat and spot duty from the Vikings to high schools. He was a part-time breaking news reporter at the Pioneer Press from 2011-13, when he was also a freelance writer and organic farmer. He started at the Duluth News Tribune in 2006, covering sports, news and business until living abroad in 2010.

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