MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota United plays host to Seattle Saturday night, but when you watch the game, keep your eye out for something not on the field but in the stands.
You may have noticed it or maybe you haven’t. In a stadium of 20,000, it’s easy to miss. Amid the sea of blue and gray, there is a solitary red seat.
When Minnesota United drew up the plans for its new stadium, it wanted to have a unique feature. The chair is called “The Eye of the Loon,” evoking the red eye of the loon on the team’s logo. But why is it there and who gets to sit in it?
The team wanted it to be something meaningful.
“It was a little bit of a surprise phone call, something I wasn’t expecting,” said Shannon Gregory, program manager at Xcel Energy.
Gregory was the first person to ever sit in the red seat for a game.
“I think it took me a couple of minutes to look around here and realize that this is the only red seat,” Gregory said. “Yeah, I didn’t know it was the only red seat, I thought well maybe there’s a red seat on the other side, but it’s definitely a conversation piece. Because you sit there and the season ticket holders and the other people around you are wondering who you are and why are you sitting in this seat.”
Gregory was chosen as a thank you. At every home game this season, the Loons will host a special guest and their family or friends.
The person in the red Eye of the Loon seat will be a current or retired military member who now works for Xcel Energy. The company’s a sponsor and wanted a way to honor and thank its employees who have served.
Gregory served in the Marines and was deployed all over the world, eventually becoming a helicopter pilot.
“We’ve got a lot of veterans that serve us. They’re a really important part of the company,” Randy Fordice said. “It’s really just another thing that we can do to thank them for the service to our country.
It’s a thank you that comes with a pretty good view.
“You just are filled with some warmth and a lot of appreciation, and that part’s neat,” Gregory said. “And the only red seat in the house, which was pretty neat, too.”