Travel time: rating the venues.

It was 1 degree the other day as I left for work and, as I walked to the bus stop, I thought to myself “self, perhaps if you think of warm summer walks you won’t cry in pain at this weather and have your tears freeze your head into an ice cube of grief and horror.”

Thinking of summer walks got me thinking about away days in the NPSL North.

That got me thinking about the venues to visit.

I emailed all of the clubs in the NPSL North to get venue information because I haven’t been to a lot of these towns. Minneapolis City responded with detailed information and photos. VSLT responded to say that they would get back to me but haven’t. Dakota Fusion is apparently having server issues and the email bounced. Aris doesn’t seem to have a website. Nobody else responded.

So here we are.


 

Dakota Fusion: Shanley High School, Fargo, ND.

Though they will play a few games at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead, Shanley looks to be the primary home of Dakota Fusion for 2017.

28shanley1tv5h

Sid Cichy Stadium at Shanley High Schools looks to be one of those identikit high school stadiums with turf field, track and aluminum risers that could be anywhere in the country, except for Texas where a stadium like this would be used primarily for kindergarten football.

High school venues tend to be disappointing. The track is an issue here as it is in any soccer stadium stuck with one. The pitch will be long and narrow, which encourages a displeasing kick-and-rush style of play. Beer is likely a no-no.

As you might expect with a high school, there isn’t much in the way of bars and restaurants nearby and since Fusion’s main email address on their website seems to be down and I didn’t have the patience to enquire further, I turned to Google instead.

As you might expect with Fargo, there isn’t much in the way of anything outside of Buffalo Wild Wings and JL Beers.

I persevered and found a place a mere 12 minutes drive away that looks interesting: Kilstone Brewing. Unless someone gives me a better recommendation, this is the place I plan to stop.

Duluth FC: Public Schools Stadium, Duluth, MN.

I love Duluth in the summer and my only wish is that Minneapolis City’s trip north happened slightly later in the summer when warmth was ensured. Still, this is a top away day destination.

It was hard to find much on the stadium itself and maybe the image I found on Google is the real deal. If I ever get an email back with an image I will be sure to amend this post accordingly.

public_school_stadium

Google Satellite shows another standard high school football stadium with track which, while disappointing, will at least be relatively familiar for traveling fans.

Also disappointing is the lack of bars and restaurants in walking distance, but again that seems to be par for the course for teams playing at high school stadiums. It’s a short trip down to Bent Paddle and I love their beer so much I don’t care if I am the only person pre-gaming there.

Med City FC: Rochester Regional Stadium, Rochester, MN.

No track, on a college campus, not from from downtown, this looks like a very promising stadium situation indeed. The turf field looks to be among the wider pitches in the division and it looks to be an excellent facility for the players.

 

stadium-5rhvbA major drawback is the explicit and police enforced restriction on alcohol both in the stadium and throughout the entire college campus.

Also, Rochester isn’t exactly famous for its craft beer scene and, given Rochester’s proximity to the Twin Cities, I can see this being a quick in-and-out trip for traveling fans.

I got a little too excited when I saw a field without a track.

Minneapolis City SC: Edor Nelson Field, Minneapolis, MN.

The West Bank is a great home for Minneapolis City all around. First, let’s talk about the stadium and just how much of a step up Edor Nelson Field at Augsburg College is.

DCIM112MEDIADJI_0014.JPGThis turf field is tucked in behind the Augsburg Ice Arena and Murphy Park, which is Minneapolis’ oldest public park in case you needed meaningless trivia in your life, and features a pristine turf surface that looks at the bald spots at The Barnyard and then paints the lines of every sport on its surface because it can.

Its 1,500 seats are tucked in close to the field itself, with no track to be found and a large fence on three sides of the ground to help keep noise in. This could easily be one of the loudest venues in the North.

Its urban location in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood means that there are plenty of options for fans before and after the game.

dsc8817The Citizens SG have made The Viking Bar, a mere half-mile walk from the stadium, their home for the season. Traveling fans have a lot of options, with The Nomad a likely stop though I will personally be recommending The Joint or Whiskey Junction because I’m a welcoming sort who likes to send out-of-towners to places that they otherwise wouldn’t experience.

Minnesota TwinStars: TBD.

Sigh.

Sioux Falls Thunder: University of Sioux Falls Sports Complex, Sioux Falls, SD.

This looks to be an excellent stadium option. Seating 2,000 but with a capacity of over 5,000 for soccer, the track-less main stadium offers a wide turf field that should play well to speedy, technical teams. If things get as windy on the plains as I’ve heard that they could, that could be another factor forcing the ball on the deck.

10Beyond that, I’ll note that the old PDL team in Sioux Falls averaged over 1,000 fans per game in its history and from what I am hearing from the few souls from Sioux Falls on soccer Twitter and Reddit there is some budding interest in the Thunder.

As far as stadium location relative to interesting bars and restaurants, Google was not much of a help though that could be as much a user error issue as it may be a Sioux Falls isn’t that interesting issue. I hope it’s the former. I have never been to South Dakota and am looking forward to checking this state off my list.

VSLT FC: James Griffin Stadium, St Paul, MN.

The Jimmy!

A classic stadium and former host of Minnesota Thunder, the 4,367 seat stadium on the campus of St Paul Central High School is just a short drive down I-94 from Minneapolis City’s Edor Nelson Field.

16741The Jimmy is a turf field ringed by a track that, if it weren’t for the 2005 U.S. Open Cup, would fall into the ‘another high school stadium’ bucket. But memories!

As with all high school stadiums on this list, the stadium is not exactly sitting in the middle of a clump of bars and restaurants.

thunder-2005-us-open-cup-run-579x384There are great options in the near vicinity, but for me I’ll probably just have a beer and a slice of pizza at the Pizza Luce on Selby and walk over to the game because I’m a sucker for Luce’s potato pizza and I like walking outside in the summer.

Visitors, especially from outside the Twin Cities, could easily be tempted by the options on Grand Avenue and I am not one to judge. In fact, if you want another useless bit of trivia, my parents’ first date was at the Green Mill on Grand while they were students at St Thomas and St Kate’s. Now you know.

La Crosse Aris: Viterbo Athletic Complex, La Crosse, WI.

I did this list alphabetically, except for Aris because, as anyone who read my first power rankings knows, Aris is always last until they prove able to gain a point in a competitive soccer game.

Also, their “stadium” is a grass field.

6e6ad50b-f3c4-4b34-b0f5-dac44274e9be-vhawksoccerfield2While I was thinking about how great it is that at least one team is playing on grass, I Googled “bars near Viterbo Outdoor Athletic Complex” and Google, with not even a little big of cheeky deadpan, returned “there are no results for bars near Viterbo Outdoor Athletic Complex.”

La Crosse Aris, everybody!

 

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