SWANSEA CITY'S USA TOUR: All you need to know about Blaine
Minnesota United Saturday v Swansea City
At the National Sports Centre, Saturday, July 19, 7pm (US time)
Address: National Sports Centre, 1700 105th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449, United States
Telephone No: 001 763 785 5600
Minnesota United won the 2011 NASL Championship and so far after nine games are top of the division with 20 points.
Minnesota's first football team was known as the Minnesota Kicks but they went under in 1981 just five years after setting up.
The Minnesota Strikers then formed in 1984, but they only lasted four seasons before folding.
Another team, the Minnesota Thunder, set up in 1990 but, after facing financial problems, were then replaced by the current Minnesota United team.
Jamaican international Omar Daley played for four years in England with Bradford City, while the winger also spent time at Reading and Preston on loan on top of a stint at Motherwell.
What's the stadium like?
The National Sports Centre has an 8,500 capacity and is reportedly the world's largest football complex. Gates are open 90 minutes before kick off.
If, during the game, you need to leave the stadium to go to the Budweiser Beer Garden or Main Gate you must scan your ticket out, or you can't scan yourself back in.
After each game you can meet the players in Autograph Alley.
The NSC comprises a 300,000-square-foot ice rink; the Schwan Center meeting and events building; a multi-faceted family golf center; the National Youth Golf Center, which features the 18-hole Victory Links course; an indoor Sports Hall with a FieldTurf field; 250-metre all wood cycling velodrome, 150-bed residence hall and 52 athletic fields.
Blaine is in the mid-east of America, and 380 miles from Atikokan just over the Canadian border by road. Realistically you're looking at flying to Canada. UK citizens don't need a visa to enter Canada or the US.
The US and Canada provide so many different environments and places; to plan your trip as best you can it's worth checking out the following links for:
Hotels nearby, only listed in alphabetic order and in no way recommended:
Centerstone Suites: 10580 Baltimore St NE, Blaine, MN 55449
Country Inn & Suites: 155 Coon Rapids Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Holiday Inn Express: 9333 Springbrook Drive NW Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Quality Inn: 9052 University Avenue NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55448
Minnesota's other sporting teams include American Football side Minnesota Vikings; basketball outfit Minnesota Timberwolves while baseball team Minnesota Twins play in the MLB and Minnesota Wild operate in the NHL.
Pubs and Grub
Please note: Tipping in America is standard, whether it be a buying a meal or a couple of drinks.
For a sit-down, waiter-served meal 10 per cent usually means you aren't totally happy; 15 per cent usually means all was acceptable; 20 per cent for excellent; over 20 per cent for outstanding.; 15-20 per cent is considered normal.
For buying drinks at the bar, $1 per drink or 15-20 per cent of the bill is seen as the standard. If you tip well and consistently at bars and pubs, you might receive a drink on the house, known as a "buyback" or "comp".
This typically occurs after the third drink you buy, however, it's usually for regular customers.
Some bartenders will still use the "old school" signal of leaving an upside-down shot glass near your spot at the bar, especially if you are deep in conversation or if it's very noisy, but it's not that common anymore.
Turn the shot glass over when you want the free drink. Even though the drink is free, the service isn't. Don't forget to tip on the "buyback." Note that some bars don't allow this.
Similar to Miller Park, tailgating (partying) in the parking lot is positively encouraged; join the social event with people sharing food and drinks, even cooking food on portable barbeque units. Alternatively, join fellow fans in the Budweiser Beer Garden while kids are catered for in the Family Fun Zone to run around before and during the game.
The food at the National Sports Centre is the standard footy fare such as hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza as well as American corn dogs. Soft drinks with free unlimited refills are around $5.
One of the unique parts of the stadium is the beer garden, where you can buy more food and alcohol. There are many trailers in attendance selling tacos and other food.
Near the stadium, you'll find Culver's restaurant and ice cream parlour, Chipotle Mexican Grill a Chili's, a McDonald's, a Starbucks and Caribou Coffee while there are three eateries just over a mile away - Acapulco Mexican, White Castle and Ole Piper Inn Bar & Grill
Travel to the National Sports Center
The NSC in Blaine is 25 minutes by car, north of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
From Minneapolis and St Paul - Take 35W north to Highway 10 West to Highway 65 North to 105th Ave NE. Take a right on 105th Ave NE. The complex is on the left and right side of 105th Avenue.
Supporters are requested to park (for free) in the NSC parking lots ONLY. It is advised not to use the parking lots of the businesses around the complex. Vehicles parked there may be towed away. The main car parks are on the north central part of the complex (1100 spaces) and Schwan Super Rink lot (700 spaces), adjacent to the main parking lot. Additional parking (2,000 spaces) is available on site if needed.
Minneapolis & St Paul by bus to Northtown Shopping Center (4 miles from stadium)
Route 10, from north east and downtown Minneapolis run every ten minutes during morning/evening rush hour periods and ten to 30 minutes daily.
Route 25, from Minneapolis (Quarry Shopping Center, Loring Park, Kenwood) and downtown Minneapolis. Buses run every 15 minutes during morning/evening rush hour and 30 minutes during the day. There's no evening service; Saturday is every 80 minutes.
Routes 827/852, express service from north east and downtown Minneapolis, run every 30 minutes during the weekday morning/evening rush hour periods. Buses run hourly during the day and evening periods and every 80 minutes on Saturdays.
Route 262, links Centennial Schools, Blaine (4 miles from stadium) with downtown St. Paul.
Did you know?
Brothers Brian and Brent Kallman both play for Minnesota United while their sisters Kylie and Krystle are also professional footballers as they play for Minnesota Lightning.