There are two groups seeking an MLS expansion franchise for the Twin Cities. The NFL’s Minnesota Vikings are teaming with Relevent Sports on a plan to bring a team to a new downtown stadium. Minnesota United FC has teamed with United Properties, the real-estate-investment firm owned by the Pohlad family (which also owns MLB’s Minnesota Twins), on a plan for a new stadium either near Target Field or Bloomington. Team president Nick Rogers and owner Bill McGuire met with MLS officials about the expansion franchises expected to be awarded by 2020.
Both teams are considered to be strong contenders to land a team, but they differ in approach. Minnesota United FC ownership is solid — McGuire is a UnitedHealth head honcho whose walked away with an impressive severance package from the heath-care giant in 2006 — and the team has proven to be a solid operator at Blaine’s National Sports Center. The Vikings/Relevent Sports group is also solid: Relevent Sports had a pretty good year promoting European friendlies in U.S. markets, and the new downtown stadium should be a stunner.
Asked what size and cost stadium the group would build, Rogers wouldn’t say exactly.
“It really just depends. If you look at what’s been successful in major league soccer, you’ve seen some success with more intimate stadiums, not these massive facilities,” Rogers said. “Even the biggest soccer facilities don’t hold tremendous amounts of people.”
Rogers never mentioned the Vikings, but one knock on the football team’s proposal is that the stadium is too big to fill up for soccer games.
Indeed, a differentiation could end up being the stadium plan. The United FC plan is for a 20,000-seat stadium designed solely for pro soccer, with an MLS team as a main tenant. For the Vikings, an MLS team would be a secondary tenant: the Vikings would reign supreme, with lots of baseball in the spring as well.