The proposal to establish a soccer stadium in the midway area of Saint Paul is gathering steam. It could be a way to build up the ALANA communities in Saint Paul and Minnesota – how?
First, soccer is very strong in immigrant communities but at the neighborhood level there is a very poor infrastructure of soccer fields the same way we have a Dunning Field for baseball. In most cases investments for a few thousand dollars can get an existing field more soccer –friendly.
Second, soccer is a way to close the achievement gap and motivate students to improve their academic performance. Having more opportunities for sports at the neighborhood level would help move youth towards positive leisure time options.
Third, soccer will help provide a global infrastructure as it is connected to a global audience of fans and could help in the recruitment and retention of hard to find talent, especially from the ALANA communities.
Fourth, it is an opportunity for a bottoms-up approach where neighborhood soccer could lead up to national and international soccer
To make this work, ALANA interests need to be integrated into the proposal for a soccer stadium in Saint Paul, which would include:
- A plan to develop the soccer infrastructure at the local level ( will not cost a lot of money)
- Integration of lessons learned in the construction of the Twins Stadium in utilizing ALANA businesses and workers during the construction phase
- Involvement of ALANA leaders in the leadership/decision making bodies before, during and after construction.
It is good to see Minnesota United engaging with the ALANA communities. An exciting soccer map is lined up on August 1 at Griffin Stadium in Saint Paul between the Oromo Sports Federation of North America and Minnesota United. This is the kind of engagement that could result in a win-win for all. Conversations with immigrant groups about supporting this initiative have also been positive.