National Sports Center
|National Sports Center|
|Broke ground||1987 (money appropriated)|
|Owner||State of Minnesota|
|Operator||National Sports Center Foundation|
|Minnesota Thunder (1990–1993); (USL) (1994–2003) (2008–2009)
Minnesota United FC (NASL) (2010–)
The National Sports Center (NSC) is a 600-acre (2.4 km²) multi-sport complex located in Blaine, Minnesota, United States, that includes a soccer stadium, over 50 full-sized soccer fields, a golf course, a velodrome, a meeting and convention facility, and an eight-sheet ice rink, the Schwan Super Rink, which is the largest ice facility of its type in the world. The National Sports Center has hosted numerous National and World Championship events in soccer, hockey, figure skating, short track speedskating, broomball, rugby, ultimate and lacrosse. The National Sports Center opened in 1990 after 1987 legislature created the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC) and appropriated $14.7 million for the construction of the NSC. The facility welcomes over 3.8 million visitors annually, making it the most-visited sports facility in the State of Minnesota.
The Herb Brooks Foundation, the foundation created by the legendary hockey coach's family, has partnered with the National Sports Center to develop the Herb Brooks Training Center, a state-of-the-art dryland and ice hockey training facility that is part of the Schwan Super Rink.
Mission and Governance
The mission of the National Sports Center is two-fold: 1) to create out-of-state economic impact for Minnesota through amateur sports events, and 2) to create sports and fitness opportunities for Minnesota residents. The NSC is operated by the National Sports Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Even though the facility is a State of Minnesota facility, and operations are overseen by the MASC, the NSC receives no operating subsidy from the State, and it is a self-supporting operation.
The NSC Stadium has a large grandstand along the west sideline of the field and smaller grandstands on the opposite sideline and on either end. The United States women's national soccer team has played four home matches at the NSC, including international matches against Canada, Australia, Norway and Sweden. Mia Hamm scored her 150th international goal at the NSC is a 3-0 victory over Australia in 2004. The NSC has also hosted men's U.S. National Team U-17 and U-20 matches. The largest crowd in NSC history was for a 2001 women's soccer match between the United States and Canada, when 15,615 fans watched a 1-0 U.S. victory. The playing field is 118 x 75 yards.
The NSC played host to the defunct Minnesota Thunder of the USL First Division. The stadium served as the Thunder's home from 1990–2003 and from May 24, 2008 until the end of the 2009 season when the team folded.
For the 2010 season the NSC Minnesota Stars were founded to replace the Minnesota Thunder in the North American Soccer League, and the Stars play their home games at the stadium. The Stars were the inaugural champions of the North American Soccer League in their 3-1 home victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on October 22, 2011. They were crowned Champions in Fort Lauderdale after a 0-0 draw in the second round of the Championship Game.