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Minnesota United joining forces with Twins to explore possibility of landing MLS team

Minnesota United FC logo

By FRANCO PANIZO

The race for the 24th MLS franchise was always expected to be intense, but few could have envisioned it going down like this.

A Minnesota TV station is reporting that NASL’s Minnesota United FC are joining forces with MLB’s Twins to explore the possibilities of landing an MLS team in the not-too-distant future. The move could pit the organizations against the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in the quest to land a franchise in the top tier of American soccer.

The report is in line with an SI.com report from a week ago and an earlier one from the Business Journal from last month, and also claims that United owner Bill McGuire is looking at land adjacent to Target Field in downtown Minneapolis to possibly build a soccer-specific stadium.

United currently do not have a timeline or cost estimate for a potential stadium, but officials representing both United and the Twins recently traveled to Kansas City to look at the $200 million, 18,000-seat Sporting Park.

By contrast, Viking owners Zygi and Mark Wilf are looking at their new fixed-roof stadium as home for their potential MLS team. The new Vikings stadium is scheduled to open in 2016, will have a capacity of approximately 65,000, and is expected to have a field that has dimensions for a suitable soccer field.

MLS, which recently said it would expand to 24 teams by the end of the decade, recently awarded Orlando the league’s 21st franchise. Miami and Atlanta are widely expected to land the 22nd and 23rd slots in the coming years.

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What do you make of this development? Which Minnesota ownership group would you prefer to see land an MLS team? Hoping another city comes in and makes a play for the 24th slot?

Share your thoughts below.

83 comments
    • Ian

      +1

      It’s unique and a bit mysterious… but let’s be honest, it’s no Houston Dash logo.😉

      Like

    • Brad

      But who would want to play for the Minnesota Loons? I mean how unfortunate would it be to make it to the bigs, and be a loon?

      Like

      • Kodi

        I disagree….what a great bird. Nothing is more mysterious than the chorus loons at night.

        Like

      • Brad

        I think you may have missed the play on words, or if your answer was sarcastic, or ironic, my apologies for missing it.

        Like

      • Kodi

        Nah bruh, I just like birds and was being silly. I do think its a cool logo.

        Like

      • Christian

        Manchester United has the Stretford End and Minnesota could have The Loonie Bin!

        Like

    • Dingleberry

      The crest is alright but nowhere as nice as their former crest when they were known as the Stars. I wish they would go back to their former name, crest and color. United FC is a lazy name IMHO.

      Like

  • Phlub

    Vikings new stadium could be great for future USMNT matches, outside of the grass problem (see Seattle).

    MLS should prefer the Twins/NASL offer though.

    Like

    • buckyball77

      Although- the MLS doesn’t need another venue(Vikings) with 2/3 of the seats tarped over and gridiron stripes on the pitch from Aug-Nov. The Seattle situation is that of mediocre quality plastic turf and the unique good fortune to draw 40k fans per game. If they were drawing a league-typical 15k in that big stadium, the atmosphere would be poor.

      Like

      • Creige

        25K people a game is a feat in the MLS so I don’t think it would look to play to a mostly empty stadium. It’s also time for the MLS to mandate real grass for all new stadiums.

        Like

      • jgnc

        Why? Bundesliga has plenty of stadiums with turn. The problem is not with turf, it is with the quality of turf and the traffic. The Timbers’ turf is world class. Maybe grass is better, but that doesn’t mean turf should be outlawed. Just regulate the quality.

        Like

      • Joe Timbres

        Dude, as a Timbers fan, thank you. Christ, I wish more would emulate your thought process.

        Like

      • go euro or go home

        turf/grass hybrid (something like a (30/70% split) fields are a new trend in Europe. Are you saying that Bundesliga teams have 100% fields? surprised if so.

        Like

    • Beto

      Well said. There is a big difference between your Big game crowds (US, El Tri, big friendlies) and your MLS season long fans. I know MLS wants to close that gap but its not going to happen over night…

      I think every team should have their own sss and having a big nfl stadium (and one with a roof!) nearby is great and could be used 1-3 times a year for big games, double headers, winter game, etc…

      Like

      • timothy

        Yes. And can we get the 4th of July rapids game at mile high? They can fill that stadium for that game (only)

        Like

      • 407

        Isn’t every game in Colorado, no matter where it’s played, likely to be “mile high” for the foreseeable future?
        😉

        Like

      • George Wilson

        Timothy the clueless, the Rapids have a soccer specific stadium and has been home to them since 2007. Mile High Stadium was torn down 10 plus years ago

        Like

      • Neal

        I’m guessing he meant the 4th of July game at Mile High/Invesco/Whatever Field instead of at Dicks Sporting Park (assuming that is still the name)

        Like

  • Weston John

    Definitely prefer the SSS rather than a team playing on turf in an NFL stadium. Very cool logo that Minnesota United FC has.

    Like

  • Brett Son of Stephen

    This sounds better than the Vikings deal but here is my question would they still be called “United” since that name already in use by DC. I know in England there are several teams named United (Manchester, West Ham, etc…) but it seems like American’s heads would explode if there was more than one team with the same name in a pro sport. They could go back to being called the Stars I suppose.

    Like

    • Buckeye

      Change it to City of Lakes FC. We can take back our nickname and call them the Lakers.

      Like

    • Beto

      Twin Cities FC is my vote. But having a second United isnt a big deal…

      As long as they are actually a collection of smaller groups united as larger pro team!

      Like

      • Wendell

        A number of the English “Uniteds” weren’t formed from any merger, but wwere the result of name changes when a neighborhood or works team wanted to claim to represent a whole city, e.g. Newton Heath became Manchester United. So the name doesn’t have to indicate any history of merged clubs.

        Like

      • Matt

        The guy who owns the Minnesota United NASL franchise is the former CEO of the largest health insurance company in the US which goes by the name of United Health Group among others. So “United” is not necessarily a reference to Euro team naming conventions, but could just as easily refer to the owner’s background. It’s his money so he can call the team what he wants.

        Also, the SSS plans look way more attractive than a MLS team playing in the new Vikings dome. I think they could pull a Montreal and play big/cold weather matches at the domed stadium and play the warm weather matches at the SSS (if they can get the Wilfs onboard) and you’d have the best of both worlds. The SSS location is very attractive.

        Like

  • drew11

    Wilf is shady and not local. I know McGuire had some question corporate deals but he is a far, far better fit for MLS than an absentee NFL owner.

    Like

  • Sam

    Interesting development, though honestly I would prefer the 24th spot to go to a city more in the south/southeast, like St. Louis or Raleigh/Charlotte or even Memphis/Nashville. (I’ll admit, I’m hoping the Miami bid fails. I think Orlando might be enough to stir up soccer buzz in Florida.) The lack of a presence in the Old South is a big blind spot that MLS should address!

    Like

    • Jacknut

      Atlanta is somewhere in that list, I think. 23, maybe. Would love to see a team in Charlotte as my brother lives there.

      Like

    • Beto

      The updated standings;

      22-Miami
      23-Atlanta
      24-Twin Cities

      Others: Charlotte, St Louis, Tampa Bay, Austin, San Antonio, Cosmos, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Carolina Tri-Cities area, others

      Like

    • Ryan in NYC by way of NC

      Which would be a more ideal place in NC for an MLS franchise, Raleigh/Durham or Charlotte?

      Like

      • Wendell

        Neither is ideal. Charlotte is bigger but has the NFL and NBA in town. Raleigh-Durham is smaller with the NHL, but also UNC, Duke and NC State college basketball. As of right now, both locations would be marginal on supporting an MLS team. Ask again in 5 to 10 years

        Like

      • wandmdave

        I’d buy season tickets to either location. Obviously that means #24 should be in NC!

        Like

      • CJ

        Baloney! Raleigh, hands down.

        Charlotte is all about NASCAR & the Panthers. They still view soccer as an unAmerican communist sport. Granted, the fan base in RDU is smaller than larger metro areas, but there are tons of families involved w/ the sport, and people here are passionate & knowledgable.

        Like

      • Ezra

        I would be happier with Twin Cities FC then I would be with Minnesota United. It’s just that the stadium is in Minneapolis and Minneapolis is a major US City and St. Paul is not. Don’t get me wrong.. St. Paul is a historic city and the center of Government for the state but Minneapolis is much larger and is the center of Business, Nightlife and Sporting for the state.

        Like

      • Ted in MN

        St Paul is Minneapolis imho. Its just one big thing with an artificial line through the middle which has resulted in some minor differences in services. It’s like suburbs: if you’re from Sugarland, you’re from Houston. Yes, you pay your estate tax to a different civic entity but there’s little functional difference. You’ve got the same local tv channels, your paper is from the same local newspaper, and you’re all complaining about the same local weather. I lived for years in Falcon Heights which is, roughly speaking, between the two cities. There’s no difference in cultural pull. If I want to see a hockey game, I go east. If I want to see a baseball game I go west. You could change the name of both of em, join the two cities into one bigger one and functionally there’d be no difference for anything but administrative purposes.

        Like

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US

      >>>Side bar: Screw St. Paul

      and the rest of the state too.

      Like

  • Ted in MN

    As a Minnesotan, I’d be hoping for the Twins on this one. The Pohlads (well, since Carl died) have been pretty stable owners, willing to engage and invest in the community (it helps that they were handed the keys to a new stadium) while staying pretty stable and committed to onfield performance (the last few seasons all falling at the feet of former GM Bill Smith who had no idea what he was doing). Ye olde Pohlad was fond of hostage tactics with this but I’ve always gotten a better feeling out of Jim as a Twins fan.

    The Wilfs by contrast just kinda pop in and out when it suits their interests. Zygi’s used MLS as a bit more leverage and now that it suits him, he’ll put some passing interest into it like Kraft if the price is right (soccer’s growing so why not). Yet, now that he’s got his stadium (not where he wanted but nevertheless) I’d anticipate he goes back to New Jersey without much more interest unless something of particular relevance comes up that he can ruin (see: firing Lezlie Frazier).
    To sum it up: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20131231/minnesota-vikings-wilfs-rick-spielman-leslie-frazier/

    Like

    • Ted in MN

      Bill McGuire and the Pohlads are both local, invested in the future and less prone to ####ing crazy decisions than the Zygi (well at least Jim is based off his record as the Twins owner).

      Like

  • Quit whining about soccer in the US

    Minnesota United ? Good greif. Besides FC can we get any more boring ?

    No, no we can’t.

    ps. What did all of these teams unite anyway ? Were they two teams in Minnesota and they united ? Ditto for DC ?

    Like

    • BAJ

      If you look up the past of the Minnesota Club they actually have a good case to call themselves United after all the changes and issues in the past with several name changes along the way.

      Like

    • 2tone

      Hmm, D.C. is the Capitol of the “United States of America”. Just throwing that out there.

      Like

  • MLS_Soccer_Talker

    If I’m Garber I like The Twins Group over the Vikings group. The Twins Group seems like previous successful blueprints

    Like

  • g-dub

    According to Wiki they averaged 1,700 fans in reg season and 2,500 in the playoffs.

    That’s pretty solid (but not amazing) support for a lower league. I like seeing established fan bases with a culture rewarded with MLS entry so Minny seems like a good choice for 24 as an impartial observer.

    “Loonies” rocks as a supporter group name.

    Like

    • Brian

      When the Kicks were around the high attendance was around 32,000 and 16 to 18,000 was the low.

      Like

    • Rob_B

      I’m thinking those averages are from a year or two ago… Since new ownership took over, MNUFC has averaged around 4,000-plus fans per game. And I would argue that they are in position to significantly grow that number this coming season, particularly with all of the MLS buzz surrounding Minnesota soccer.

      Like

      • Drew Jensen

        When they were in the Dome (in the metro) they were actually averaging 5,500-6000. When they when to the Sports Center (northern suburb) it dropped to about 3,500 a game.

        Just goes to show, downtown is best!

        Like

  • Mike

    It will be worth it to watch Ted freak out over this “promotion” from tr mighty NASL

    Like

  • Drew Jensen

    MNUFC fan here.. season tickets, merch, brainwashing my two young boys. Anyways, Twins group hands down. I can tell you how much I despise the Wilfs. They pull this crap getting $400 mill from taxpayers and now the whole city says their “tapped out” for any funding for any sports project. I say screw it and move on, pay the whole thing and show how much us tax payers are getting screwed with these “people’s stadium” bs.

    We have a LONG history of soccer starting with the Kicks in the 70’s (have a few years of 30k+ fans average at games), then the thunder in late 90’s to the Stars mid 2000’s and now MN United. Through thick or thin, a fan I will be. Oh, our supporters are called the “Dark Clouds”. Not sure why, but I’d much rather have the “Loonies”. I’ve heard tv announcers call the team “The Loons”.

    Like

      • Drew Jensen

        Ha! Completely makes sense now. I was just a little one then. I thankfully did get out to see a few of their games.

        Like

    • Matt

      I believe Dark Clouds as a name goes back to when the team was called the Minnesota Thunder and played in the A-League last decade.

      Like

  • El Paso tx

    First of all the name is pretty good, but how about twin cities united fc or just stick to Minnesota united before another MLS team gets it but u can do better.
    Second of all, Orlando is in, Miami as well and Atlanta but does Minnesota have a real chance.
    Third of all, MLS will not stop At 24 teams, and MLS will have 26 to 28 teams. I say 26, by 2026 just in time for USA 2026 World Cup.
    Fourth of all, NASL needs west and east conferences if they keep expanding, just like MLS and if NASL expands and keeps the single table, it will be to expensive for NASL teams and they will jump into MLS.
    Five of all, MLS needs warmer markets NO MATTER what, all these cold markets need to stop being delusional and make a retractable SSS or a really good roof and heated pitch.
    Sixth of all, garber said that by 2020 MLS will have 20 teams, and it doesn’t make sense because there is a handful of open markets with respectful owners and plans and now he is making expanding markets bet the highest, instead of taking the proper market.
    You have these realistic markets, ny cosmos, Sacramento, San Antonio, okc, st.louis if they get deep pockets owners, Phoenix with cardinals stadium n it has grass, Nc/Sc.

    Like

  • Brett

    I’d rather see separate clubs in Minneapolis and St. Paul. MLS needs more local rivalries and true derby matches. The Vikings, Twins, Wild, and whatever other fledgling major franchises are there, are perennial losers so the population could get behind some new teams quickly.

    Build each a small SSS with a roof and heated grass field. The people will come.

    Like

    • Ted in MN

      That just isn’t feasible in the metro area. The population is too small to support 2 clubs like New York or LA and the cultural differences between Minneapolis and St. Paul just aren’t that embedded. I also wouldn’t doubt the loyalty of the Twin Cities to any franchise not named the Timberwolves and you’re forgetting the University of Minnesota is also in town with 3 revenue sports.

      Like

  • Mitchell Prin

    What is hard to understand is how the two sports of baseball and soccer can co-exist at such a strong level because to me they are competing entities for the public’s dollar. When it comes to spectator sports, these two sports are going for the summer money of family’s entertainment budgets.
    i wrote a few articles on this subject…http://www.americanizesoccer.com/2011/03/baseballs-steroids-era-and-its-effects.html and/or http://www.americanizesoccer.com/2011/04/baseball-hockey-will-trend-down-more.html

    Like

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  • Bogey

    I wish the firm that designed their logo would redesign the Vikings, it needs some serious help.

    Like

  • Ron Green

    I think the Twins owners should worry about running the Twins first, befoer such an endeavor. The Vikes owners would be my choice. Bet your bottom dollar, the Twins group will come to the tax payers with open hands, while the Vikes will have an already venue in place.

    Like

    • Drew Jensen

      Please no! No WILFS! They just simply don’t care about the sport. Horrible owners. As long as the twins or is simply a minor stake holder, that’s fine by me. I don’t see McGuire giving up his slice of the pie.

      Like

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