By RYAN TOLMICH
The introduction of an MLS franchise in Minnesota appears to be moving closer and closer to reality.
MLS commissioner Don Garber released a statement Monday detailing the league’s continued plans for expansion. The league, which has previously targeted a 24-team setup, will be evaluating options in the coming year with regard to moving past that mark.
Additionally, Garber says that the league is in “advanced discussions” with Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire, as the league targets an expansion announcement in the next 30-45 days.
“During the past several months, we have conducted expansion meetings with representatives from Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Sacramento and visited all three markets,” Garber said. “We have also met with representatives from San Antonio and St. Louis. We recently announced that Las Vegas is no longer being considered for this round of expansion.
“We are in advanced discussions with Bill McGuire and his partners in Minnesota to bring a Major League Soccer expansion club to the Twin Cities and are particularly excited about their plans for a new soccer-specific stadium that will serve as the club’s home,” Garber added. “We remain on track to announce the next MLS expansion market in the next 30-45 days, though no specific date for an announcement has been set.”
With the decision to pursue Minnesota United’s plans for the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium, MLS would be forgoing a second option put forth by the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings plan would see the new soccer franchise share a stadium to be opened in 2016, and, while disappointed, owner Mark Wilf said he is pleased with the MLS’ commitment to Minnesota.
“We have been informed by Major League Soccer of its plans to pursue an outdoor stadium in Minneapolis. We have been very excited about the possibility of bringing an MLS team to Minnesota fans and deeply committed to providing a phenomenal stadium experience,” Wilf said in a statement. “We offered MLS an ideal situation – a stadium that is certain and will be completed in 2016, a plan that was funded by the public and private sectors to host MLS, and an option that will not require additional government approvals. The new multi-purpose stadium also would have accommodated the length of the MLS season and the growth of the sport in this market.
“At the same time, we commend MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott for their continued success in building the MLS brand, and, most importantly, we are pleased to see they believe in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market.”
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