Major League Soccer team coming to Minnesota

Published 10:03 am Thursday, March 26, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — After preserving a professional soccer team for Minnesota, Bill McGuire soon began to think bigger.

He wanted to be in the major league. The desire was mutual.

Major League Soccer formally awarded an expansion franchise Wednesday to McGuire’s group of investors in Minneapolis with the expectation an outdoor stadium will be built in time for the 2018 season.

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“It’s hard to be anything but humbled, I think,” said McGuire, his voice cracking as he addressed hundreds of grass-roots supporters and prominent local figures who attended at the celebratory event at Target Field, the home of baseball’s Twins.

McGuire, a physician who became chief executive officer at UnitedHealth Group before leaving the post in 2006 amid a stock-option-backdating scandal that resulted in a $468 million settlement with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, rescued Minnesota United FC with his purchase of the financially struggling North American Soccer League franchise a little more than two years ago.

The NASL is a level below MLS, which began to eye the Twin Cities market after seeing United’s success under McGuire.

“We have deep confidence in this ownership group,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.

McGuire’s group was still being finalized, but already included were Bob Pohlad and Jim Pohlad of the Twins ownership family, owner Glen Taylor of the NBA’s Timberwolves and Wendy Carlson Nelson, a third-generation family member of Carlson, the local hospitality and travel company that owns Radisson hotels and other brands.

“If we didn’t believe that they would finalize the stadium project in time to launch their team, we wouldn’t be here today,” Garber said.

Garber also, however, said MLS would re-evaluate the franchise award if a plan were not finalized by July 1.

Dayton: State won’t chip in direct aid for soccer stadium

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is reiterating broad Capitol opposition to a direct soccer stadium subsidy for a newly announced pro franchise, but he hasn’t closed the door on assisting in other ways.

Dayton cheered the news Wednesday that Minnesota was chosen as an expansion site for Major League Soccer. The goal is to field a team by 2018 if the ownership group can finance construction of a planned outdoor stadium in Minneapolis.

Dayton says it’s possible the state transportation department or county governments would undertake infrastructure improvements in the vicinity of a soccer stadium. He says he hasn’t been approached with any proposal.

But the governor says other major business expansion projects have had exits ramps added or widened to assist with traffic flow.