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Don Garber tight-lipped about Minnesota United’s uncertain future

photo by Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports


NEW YORK — Minnesota United’s deadline is fast approaching, but MLS commissioner Don Garber is staying mum on what might happen to the proposed expansion club if it fails to strike a deal for a stadium.

Minnesota United saw the state legislature adjourn for the year earlier this month without approving a number of tax breaks and reductions for a soccer-specific venue in downtown Minneapolis that club owner Bill McGuire desired. As such, the future of Minnesota United is in doubt.

The NASL club, which was announced in March as an MLS expansion team set to begin play in 2017 or 2018, now has until July 1 to come up with a back-up plan for a stadium deal.

Garber and MLS, however, are not saying publicly what will happen if McGuire and his ownership group fail to come up with a suitable solution in time.

“They’ve got an upcoming deadline to hopefully finalize something with their stadium, so I’m not going to comment on it until that deadline is upon us,” said Garber. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Bill McGuire and his partners. We love the market, we want to see something happen there, and we’ll wait and see.

“We really want to have a team in Minnesota, but they’ve got to play in a downtown stadium because that’s the deal that we cut.”

Some observers might think that an alternative is to have Minnesota United play temporarily at Target Field, the home of MLB’s Minnesota Twins that is located in the Farmers Market neighborhood where McGuire wants to construct his proposed stadium.

Expansion club New York City FC currently has a similar arrangement with the New York Yankees. Both teams play their home games at Yankee Stadium, though that agreement consists of a field-conversion process that requires two to three days of work from the grounds crew.

But Garber squashed the idea of Minnesota United starting out at Target Field, saying that that option is not on the table for the club.

“No, that wasn’t the agreement we made with them,” said Garber before referencing NYCFC’s arrangement with the Yankees. “We can make different decisions in different markets. That’s one thing being the boss allows us to be able to do.”

It’s unclear whether the opposing Minnesota bid, from NFL’s Vikings owner Mark Wilf, could come back into the picture should United fail to strike a deal. Wilf proposed having an MLS expansion club play in an indoor football stadium that is scheduled to be completed in 2016, but MLS liked McGuire’s bid better.

In any case, the uncertainty is growing over Minnesota United’s future and so are questions as to whether MLS should have waited for the NASL club to work out a stadium deal before being awarded a franchise.

“In a perfect world, that would’ve been easier for everybody. We don’t live in anything remotely close to a perfect world,” said Garber. “We were trying to get something done before the end of the legislative session, and we ran out of time. Those things happen.

“You’ve got to pivot, you’ve got to make a decision now going forward that will allow us to go forward in that market.”


  1. This sucks. I’ve been loyal to MLS for 20 years…traveled to games in Tampa, Chicago, Kansas City, Columbus, Denver and Salt Lake City…waiting for my hometown team to show up in the Twin Cities and now this?

    Name me one other MLS franchise that had to put a stadium deal together in 3 and a half months. One. You won’t find one.

    Miami gets forever. NYCFC gets forever.

    Minnesota gets 3.5 months, and has to put it in downtown Minneapois, or else? St. Paul isn’t good enough, Brooklyn Park isn’t good enough, playing at Target Field for a year or two isn’t good enough.

    Screw you Don Garber. Screw you and the horse you rode in on. You pull my team, I’m done with your league.

  2. MLS fishing for potential markets what ever city builds a Soccer Specific Stadium first will get the franchise. Therefore, it seems no interest in Miami, Minnesota but LA has the high likely they will find local partners with Hollywood mogals will build SSS before any other proposed soccer market.

  3. I used to be excited about MLS expansion but between NYCFC playing in a baseball yard for the foreseeable futue, the disaster that is Miami, Atlanta’s lame name/colors, and now this, I am not so happy anymore. At least LAFC seems to have a stadium and a fine one at that.

  4. I am VERY curious to see if the fans are there if they don’t switch to MLS.

    Not trying to troll NASL or any other US league, I wish them HUGE success, but there is part of me that thinks the fans are showing up to show their tail feathers in hopes of moving to MLS.

  5. This is why MLS needs to wait until the funds are in the bank and the shovels are in the ground before announcing an expansion club. They have this big hulla balloo in Minnesota to announce the team, it is even broadcast nationally and now look….they won’t be getting a team after all. Sacramento you on the clock.

    • Oh they’ll get a team but not in some trendy nice downtown stadium with tons of activity and energy. They’ll get one in the burbs where they’ll get Columbus Crew and FC Dallas type numbers of 8-10,000 and they will languish in mediocrity for years to come.

    • Agreed. The Pre-pre announcements, then the pre-announcements, then the annoucement in different stages is great for publicity.

      I guess no publicity is bad publicity?

  6. MLS just looks really stupid in all of this. NYCFC have no stadium plan, playing in a baseball stadium as the 2nd tenant. Now Miami and Minnesota have had the big press conferences but they can’t even get their stadium deals sorted out. MLS jumped the gun. Meanwhile Sacramento must be wondering what the heck they need to do to get any attention from Garber.

  7. I say go to San Antonio and just have them expand Toyota Field….could even place a team in Austin, a city WITHOUT any Pro Sports….

  8. Too many guests and not enough tables. I’m guessing this has to do with the established USL teams that want a bid being more prepared. Probably something with Ibarra being sold too. Oh well, Minn United will survive and NASL won’t lose one of their better run clubs, so american soccer wins.

  9. I hate soccer politics, its always love towards nfl,mlb and nba.
    Its sad and annoying that mls never gets full support and mls teams end with cookie cutter stadiums.
    Even their team name is gone, what’s happening there.

  10. I generally don’t like stadium subsidies but this deal called for modest ones. If MLS persisted the legislature probably would go for it. There was a stumbling block with Minneapolis so they’re talking to other cities in the metro area. Democrats lost the House of Representatives last election because out-state voters were feeling slighted so they’re being careful not to spend too much in the metro area. You have to spread it around, so they say.

    • Yeah. Darn those rich people for trying to bring jobs to your community. Nothing like class warfare rhetoric to miss the point.

      If they had taken public money for the project, like the Wilfs did, you’d have a plausible argument. But they didn’t. The State is not losing money or incurring extra cost by passing a tax credit. States giving tax shelters to establish a new business in an area is hardly unique to sports. Or ‘rich people.’ It costs money to start a business.

      But hey, let’s have a wasteland where only gangs prosper, like Chicago.

  11. How about: don’t award an ownership group a franchise when they don’t have a solidified stadium plan. As Beckham’s Miami endeavor has shown us, there’s a difference between a “desired” plan, and reality.

    • Think it’s probably a catch 22 in some cases. Some cities not willing to commit to a stadium without knowing a franchise is gauranteed.

      Hopefully this is just a case of ran out of time. But in either case, seems like MLS picks their markets for specific reasons and so will likely find a way to get these stadium deals done eventually.

      • It’s not a catch-22 at all.

        The public shouldn’t spend tax money to build a private stadium at any level.

        You’re beginning with the wrong premise.

      • I agree if you are talking about existing tax revenue that the public already has access to, or using public funds to provide upfront funding. But if the stadium genuinely creates incremental new revenues, why shouldn’t we consider giving 5-10 years of limited tax reductions on these new cash streams? Things like sales tax abatements on in-game concessions (that don’t currently exist or generate tax revenue, and never will if the stadium doesn’t get built) seem harmless enough to at least consider.

      • Fine. Except in this case, the State isn’t giving the group money. They are exempting them from certain taxes to offset the cost of their own work. A work that will bring jobs to the area.

        Of course, Minnesota has never been a place terribly interested in job creation.

      • And the govt raining billions on the likes of GE and Boeing via the export-import bank? You’re fine with that I’m going to guess.

        The whole anti stadium public funding strutting is so amusing. In most cases we are talking about chump change in the big picture. Businesses gets billions and billions from govt all the time. Stadium funding is the last place we should be worried about corporate welfare.

      • Agreed. I’ll look forward to the day these sudden Libertarian converts return their home mortgage interest deductions to the IRS, as well as moving to a place where the government has not built any roads, power lines, sewers.

        But I’m not holding my breath.

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