MN United Clinches MLS Expansion Slot, Maybe
Minnesota soccer entered the major leagues today when MLS Commissioner Don Garber awarded an expansion slot to Minnesota United FC, but the ownership group will have to quickly assemble a stadium plan to avoid having the offer rescinded.
Garber said that the ownership group had until July to release detailed stadium plans. If they fail to do so, Garber said the league “has other options” and would consider choosing another city for the expansion.
July was chosen “as a timetable that allows [the ownership team] to get something done to conceivably start by 2017,” Garber said.
Dr. Bill McGuire, former CEO of United Health Group, leads the team of United owners along with Glen Taylor (owner of the Timberwolves and Lynx), Robert and Jim Pohlad (owners of the Twins) and Wendy Carlson Nelson.
United is expected to play in a soccer-specific stadium next to the Minneapolis Farmers Market, only a quarter-mile from Target Field.
McGuire gave an estimate of 18,500 seats to round the field, although he hopes to incorporate standing areas, comparable to the structure of the Twins establishment.
Although he didn’t give specifics on the cost of the stadium, McGuire expects a range of $100 to 200 million to complete the project.
The proposed site stretches across eight acres of land between Target Field and the Minneapolis Farmers Market. About two weeks ago, it was revealed that McGuire had an option to purchase the property. City officials have been eager to develop this still-industrial stretch of the North Loop, which will soon be serviced by the upcoming Green Line extension.
When asked about using public taxpayer money to fund the stadium costs, McGuire declined to say whether his ownership group would cover the costs themselves or put it upon the public.
“We haven’t decided how to do this yet,” McGuire said. “We haven’t laid out anything or talked to anybody about what partnerships could be and how they would play out.”
In a month’s time, the United’s owners aim to release more information about plans to build the franchise.
Garber expressed confidence in the community support Minneapolis has given soccer as a whole, especially so during the announcement event.
“I have no doubt that this will be a monster of a soccer market,” he said. “This could actually be the biggest event we’ve had for a team launch ever.”
United currently plays in the North American Soccer League (NASL) but is expected to begin MLS play in 2018.