A Minnesota MLS expansion franchise with plenty of investor firepower is set to launch for the 2018 season, provided new stadium planning is completed, according to reports.
SI.com is reporting that Minnesota United FC will be awarded one of the two expansion teams for the 2018 season, with Miami and Sacramento waiting in the wings. It’s no secret that league officials have seen Minneapolis-St. Paul as a highly desirable expansion location, and with two strong groups seeking a team, everything was in place for this decision. From SI.com:
Speculation has been increasing in recent months that United had taken the lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the race to bring MLS to the Twin Cities. In October, SI.com reported that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Twins owner Jim Pohlad joined United owner Dr. Bill McGuire’s investor group.
A month later, the group welcomed Dr. Glen Nelson, a member of the family that runs hotel and hospitality giant Carlson.
And at a recent event for United supporters, McGuire told fans, “We have saved you from having to worry about your team playing on a plastic pitch … You will be very excited about the news you hear shortly.”
It came down to facilities, with both Minneapolis ownership groups strong. The Minnesota Vikings had teamed up with promoter Relevent Sports on an expansion plan that would have a team playing at the new billion-dollar NFL stadium (shown above) currently being constructed in downtown Minneapolis. (Technically, it’s a multiuse facility: it can be configured for soccer and baseball, with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball team slated to play there in the early season.) The United group was pitching a new soccer-specific stadium near Target Field, the Minneapolis Farmers Market and other Pohlad-owned properties (through the family’s real-estate investment arm, United Properties). There are pluses to both: each facility is well-served by mass transit and freeways (light rail runs by both). But what probably swayed MLS officials: the high-powered United ownership group, as well as an open-air stadium that could be a unique addition to an area with lots of density and entertainment options.