The Snowclasico in 2013 remains one of the most iconic matches in U.S. Soccer history. A 1-0 win courtesy of a Clint Dempsey goal against Costa Rica, in the midst of heavy snowfall and 28-degree weather, imprinted in every American soccer fan’s memory a winter wonderland win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. The match tied for the team’s coldest to date, but that is set to change soon.
As they continue to navigate through the current window of World Cup Qualifiers, the U.S. Men’s National Team began the three-match window with a 1-0 win against El Salvador at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, where the temperature was 29 degrees at kickoff, followed by a 2-0 loss against Canada in Hamilton, Ontario on Sunday, where temperatures reached a low of 14 degrees.
With the forecast for their upcoming match against Honduras at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn. on Wednesday, Feb. 2 (7:30 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision, TUDN) predicting a high of 9 degrees on the day, the USMNT is preparing for another memorable night of winter conditions.
While the sound of that forecast may be daunting on first impression, it’s not the first time a sporting event has been held at this level of wintery conditions. In fact, it’s not even the first time that’s happened this year.
The 2022 NHL Winter Classic was held at Target Field -- home of the MLB’s Minnesota Twins -- in Minneapolis on New Year’s Day. The temperature was at a frosty -5 degrees that day, making it the coldest game in NHL history. Like Allianz Field, Target Field is an outdoor, open-air stadium. Despite the low temperature and exposure to the elements in an outdoor venue, the game was a sellout, with 38,619 fans in attendance. The event was considered a huge success, with some even calling it the experience of a lifetime.
Nevertheless, a match in these conditions calls for additional considerations for players and fans alike, and U.S. Soccer has been preparing since announcing this match last November to make sure every resource is available to brave the cold.
“From the moment we announced the match, we’ve been taking all the necessary steps to ensure our players, staff and fans will be prepared to handle the cold,” said U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer George Chiampas. “That preparation is very similar to what we do when we’re preparing for the heat or the altitude when we go away to Mexico or Central America, but in this case we’re talking about cold. We’ve been in coordination with local health officials in the past two months, and we’re implementing countless mitigation measures similar to – if not above – what’s been done around colder sporting events to ensure resources and information are available to make sure everyone has a great experience.”
Every fan will receive a complimentary pair of handwarmers at their seat. Fans are also allowed and encouraged to bring their own blankets into the stadium as well as battery-operated clothing or heating devices.
U.S. Soccer and Allianz Field have also designated warming areas along the stadium concourse. Should fans need a break from the outdoors to warm up, they can seek heated areas at Guest Services, the stadium restaurant, in elevator lobbies, stairwells or restrooms. Information on warm areas will also be widely available to everyone in attendance should they need it.
The stadium will also be outfitted with additional medical stations for fans and ambulances on site, while roving medical teams will move around the stadium consistently to check on fans. The First Aid room is also located on the concourse behind Section 25.
HOT FOOD & BEVERAGES
Allianz Field manages its concessions options with Delaware North Sportservice (DNS), one of the leading foodservice management companies in sports. In working together along with U.S. Soccer, the organizations have made additional warm food and beverage options available to fans for the USMNT game.
These options include hot chocolate, coffee, hot sandwiches, and soup. DNS is also the concessions provider for Target Field, and shared additional learnings with Allianz Field and U.S. Soccer following their experience managing the food and beverage needs at the aforementioned Winter Classic.
Since announcing the match, U.S. Soccer has had multiple conversations with local health officials to ensure every step is being taken to prepare players, staff and fans for the cold weather. Ticket purchasers have also been receiving consistent communication through direct emails on all of the information provided above.
In terms of the on-field product, Allianz Field is equipped with technology to keep the playing surface from suffering as a result of the cold. The field relies on in-ground heat to keep the pitch from freezing, while the grounds crew also counts with heavy duty snow covers that they can deploy on the field before snowfall to protect the grass during a mechanical removal.
One other benefit of the technology is that because of the condensation caused by the combination of a warm field mixed with cool air, the surface of the field will have a consistent moisture similar to that of a recently watered field in regular climate conditions.
As for the USMNT, their unofficial mantra for the January window continues: Embrace the Cold. Embrace the conditions.
"I want it to be freezing. I want to be cold. I want snow. I want to be a part of something so iconic that I saw and really remember growing up. So, I think the guys are ready to embrace it, embrace the cold," veteran center back Walker Zimmerman said last week as he reflected on watching the Snowclasico on TV.
He will almost certainly get that. As the record-cold gameday in St. Paul approaches, all is in place to bundle up, embrace the conditions, and battle for three important points.