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Minnesota United FC (MLS)

Minnesota United FC
Full name Minnesota United Football Club
Nickname(s) Loons, United
Founded March 25, 2015
Stadium New St. Paul Stadium
Owner Bill McGuire
League Major League Soccer
Website Club home page

Minnesota United FC is a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area that plans to begin play in 2017 or 2018. The team will become the league's 22nd or 23rd team and replace the North American Soccer League (NASL) franchise of the same name. Minnesota United FC's ownership is led by Bill McGuire, former CEO of UnitedHealth Group, and includes other Minnesota sports owners: Twins owners the Pohlad family, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, former Wild investor Glen Nelson, and his daughter Wendy Carlson Nelson of the Carlson hospitality company.

The club plans to play in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in a stadium to be built at an old "bus barn" site in the Midway neighborhood.[1]

Minnesota United will be the sixth MLS expansion team to join from a lower division, following Seattle Sounders FC (2009), Portland Timbers (2011), Vancouver Whitecaps (2011), Montreal Impact (2012), and Orlando City SC (2015).[2]

Contents

  • Expansion process 1
  • Stadium 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Expansion process

On March 25, 2015, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced Minnesota United as the league's 23rd club and awarded the franchise to a group led by former UnitedHealth CEO Bill McGuire. The ownership group includes other Minneapolis sports owners, Twins owner Jim Pohlad, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, and Wild investor Glen Nelson. They beat out a competing bid by Minnesota Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf.[3] Garber said Minnesota would begin play in 2018 or 2017—if Los Angeles Football Club is not ready to play in 2017, Minnesota would take its place.[4]

McGuire bought the team, then named the Minnesota Stars, in November 2012 when it was under NASL's caretaker ownership.[5] In September 2013, 2020 Partnership, a consortium of Downtown Minneapolis businesses, approached United about building a soccer-specific stadium by the Minneapolis Farmers Market near Target Field.[6]

The Minnesota Legislature had passed a bill in May 2012 for a new NFL stadium projected to open by fall 2016 and gave a provision allowing for the Vikings to pursue an MLS franchise,[7] including a five-year exclusive window to host MLS games in the new stadium.[8] The Wilfs' bid also had the support of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, and Minnesota Senator Tom Bakk called Major League Soccer to inform them that the state legislature would not be providing financing for a soccer-specific stadium.[9] However, Commissioner Garber said that whenever possible, the league preferred a stadium that would be an "outdoor, soccer-specific stadium, 20,000 seats, playing on grass" as opposed to larger, covered venues with artificial turf like U.S. Bank Stadium,[10] and McGuire had the support of Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and at least three members of the Minneapolis City Council.[9]

Stadium

McGuire stated a desire to build an 18,500-seat, outdoor soccer-specific stadium next to the Minneapolis Farmers Market in Downtown.[11] At the time of the club's launch, the league did not give any timeline for the stadium plan, but said it was working on finalizing a plan by July 1, 2015, the deadline set by the league.[9] Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he would oppose a publicly financed stadium, but said he would not oppose ancillary support for infrastructure reinforcements.[10]

In a plan released in April 2015, the ownership showed a projected cost for the stadium of $250 million: $100 million for MLS expansion fee, $30 million for land acquisition, and $120 million for construction.[9] The ownership group met with Governor Dayton and other state political leaders to share the plan.[12] The group asked the politicians for a sales tax exemption of up to $3 million on construction materials, as well as breaks or caps on city and county property taxes for the stadium site.[13] -The tax relief could potentially add up to around $50 million.[9]

The day after the meeting, Mayor Hodges said she opposed the sales tax and property tax exemption because unlike other stadiums in Minneapolis that have received similar breaks, Minnesota United's stadium would be privately owned.[14] The following week, the Minnesota Senate voted 61-4 to prevent any state funds or tax expenditures from being used for the stadium, although the vote was termed "largely symbolic" as McGuire had not asked for state funds and the bill would not prevent the team from seeking city or county funds.[15] McGuire later said that he would be open to signing the property over to Minneapolis, Hennepin County or another public entity if that would make property tax exemption possible.[16]

Although the July 1 deadline passed without a stadium deal and the plan for a Downtown Minneapolis stadium was the primary reason for choosing McGuire's group, league deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said Minnesota was still considered an expansion site, partly because of interest from the neighboring St. Paul.[17] Later that month, St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman spoke to Abbott proposed building on a city-owned vacant lot that formerly housed the Metro Transit bus barn near Interstate 94.[18]

On August 31, 2015, the team's deal for an exclusive right to purchase industrial land near the Farmer's Market expired with no public statement about any extension of the deal.[19]

On September 8, 2015, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners passed a non-binding resolution to support the stadium's construction on the St. Paul bus barn site, provided the design and construction are paid for by private funds.[20]

On October 23, 2015, It was announced that Minnesota United would build a stadium on the 35-acre St. Paul Bus Barn site.[21] The proposed stadium will seat approximately 20,000, and completion is anticipated in 2018.[22]

References

  1. ^ MLSsoccer staff (23 October 2015). "Minnesota United FC announce plan for new St. Paul stadium". MLSsoccer.com. MLS. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "MAKE WAY FOR MINNESOTA MLS' 23rd team to begin play in 2018". Big Apple Soccer. March 25, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  3. ^ Baxter, Kevin (March 25, 2015). "MLS awards 23rd franchise to Minneapolis". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  4. ^ Stejkal, Sam (March 25, 2015). "MLS Commissioner Don Garber: Minneapolis represents everything that is spurring growth of MLS". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Now or Never for Pro Soccer in Minnesota? Bill McGuire Resurrects the MN Stars Franchise as Minnesota United". Twin Cities Business. April 19, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  6. ^ Greder, Andy (June 10, 2014). "Pro soccer: Vikings go public with push for MLS team in Minnesota". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ Brian Quarstad (May 12, 2012). "MLS Commissioner Don Garber Says Minnesota "Goes on List" with New Vikings Stadium". Insidemnsoccer.com.com. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  8. ^ Vomhof, Jr., John (December 11, 2013). "Another downtown stadium? Somebody wants one". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Turner, Elliott (April 22, 2015). "MINNESOTA DISUNITED: THE FIGHT OVER AN MLS STADIUM IN MINNEAPOLIS". Vice Sports. 
  10. ^ a b Roper, Eric. "Stadium plan is crucial next step for MLS in Minneapolis". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  11. ^ Kaszuba, Mike; Dennis Brackin (March 24, 2015). "MLS to make 'major announcement' Wednesday at Target Field". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  12. ^ Greder, Andy (April 14, 2015). "United FC asks for tax relief on privately financed stadium". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Minnesota United owner meets with governor over tax ememptions". Associated Press. April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  14. ^ Golden, Erin (April 15, 2015). "Minneapolis mayor rejects tax break plan for soccer stadium". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  15. ^ Codon, Patrick (April 20, 2015). "Senate votes to bar state money for soccer stadium". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  16. ^ Gilbert, Curtis (April 30, 2015). "United owner Bill McGuire open to public stadium ownership". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  17. ^ Straus, Brian (July 1, 2015). "MLS's stadium deadline passes, but Minnesota still in play for expansion". Planet Fútbol (Sports Illustrated). 
  18. ^ Greder, Andy; Frederick Melo (July 10, 2015). "Soccer in St. Paul: Mayor pushes Snelling site for MLS stadium". Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  19. ^ Roper, Eric (September 1, 2015). "Minneapolis soccer stadium land deal ends in silence". Star Tribune. Retrieved September 3, 2015. 
  20. ^ Melo, Frederick (September 8, 2015). "Ramsey County approves St. Paul soccer stadium resolution". St. Paul Pioneer Press. 
  21. ^ Melo, Frederick (October 23, 2015). "Minnesota United FC announce plan for new St. Paul stadium resolution". Major League Soccer. 
  22. ^ "A vision for the future - Minnesota United". Minnesota United FC. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 

External links

  • Official website
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