At a news conference Wednesday at Target Field, MLS Commissioner Don Garber – flanked by Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire -- made the long-anticipated news official that Minneapolishas been awarded an expansion franchise.
“It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Minnesota to Major League Soccer,” Garber said while standing next to McGuire while both held up a Minnesota United scarf.
McGuire spoke soon after, getting emotional while rattling off a list of thank-yous and saying this would not have been possible without fans.
McGuire bought Minnesota United – which currently plays in the North American Soccer League, a level below MLS – after the 2012 season. He said it was after talking to fans following the purchase of the team that he set out to make the team “bigger” than it already was.
Garber talked about McGuire saving pro soccer in Minnesota, noting that McGuire has “become an avid and passionate lover of our game.”
Of Minnesota in general, Garber said the market offers the “perfect recipe for success” in MLS.
What remains unclear is the team’s stadium plan – and how United plans to finance a new facility near the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, a site both McGuire and Garber mentioned specifically as their area of focus on Wednesday.
Garber said there is a “great plan” for the stadium, though he offered few specifics.
McGuire’s partners include the Pohlad family, owners of the Minnesota Twins, and Glen Taylor, who owns the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Star Tribune.
“They need to fully realize that this is something they’re going to have to pay for out of their own private resources,” Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday, speaking about the funding for a potential new soccer stadium.
Garber talked of a downtown outdoor Minneapolis stadium being a “cathedral for our league” and said soccer-specific stadiums have been a “cornerstone of our league’s growth.”
McGuire’s group was chosen over a group led by Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, who would have had the team play in the Vikings’ new indoor stadium. “We’ll be here in a great facility very soon,” McGuire said.