MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – While Minneapolis cheered the announcement of a new Major League Soccer franchise, it’s not clear how the owners plan to pay for a new 18,500 seat stadium, and whether they’ll ask for the public’s help.
Starting in 2018, Minnesota United FC will join the MLS group as an expansion team.
The ownership group, led by Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire, said the team plans to build a new soccer-specific stadium near the downtown Farmers Market.
The group doesn’t have images of its stadium plan yet. In fact, McGuire said the funding plan hasn’t been worked out either, including whether taxpayer money will be needed.
“We haven’t concluded what we’re going to do yet around the stadium,” he said. “We’re just now working on the plans and the layout and what it costs and what do we need.”
Wednesday’s announcement from MLS commissioner Don Garber effectively freezes out the Wilf family, who had hoped to bring an MLS team to the new Vikings stadium.
“Bill and his partners really believe in a field with natural grass and an outdoor environment,” Garber said, “and we’re very excited about that.”
McGuire’s partners include two of the Pohlad brothers, as well as Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Wendy Carlson Nelson.
McGuire said the group will need “community partners,” but couldn’t talk about any other commitments.
When asked if he was confident the team could have a stadium ready to go in 2018, McGuire said, “Yes, we’re confident that this is a great vision for our community.”
McGuire said the owners do not plan to ask for a new tax for the stadium, but he said “public help” and “partnerships” can come in several forms.
The Hennepin County sales tax increase that’s being used to pay off the bonds for Target Field has taken in more money than expected –millions more — but Gov. Mark Dayton said those funds could not be used for the new soccer stadium without a vote from the state Legislature.
He did say it’s possible that state transportation funds might be used for new highway exits and so forth, but first public officials will need to see the plans.