MLS in Minnesota

ITodd Proa Minneapolis Unitedt looks like soccer fans in Minnesota are in luck.  At a news conference today at Target Field, MLS Commissioner Don Garber made an official announcement: Minneapolis was awarded an expansion franchise.  Holding up a Minnesota United scarf, he welcomes the state to Major League Soccer.  Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire spoke soon after, getting emotional while thanking various people, including fans, without whom this monumental moment wouldn’t have been possible.  Previously, Minnesota had been playing in the North American Soccer League, one level below MLS.  McGuire purchased the football club after the 2012 season.  After talking to fans after the purchase, he set out to make the team “bigger” than it ever was before.  Since purchasing the team, McGuire has become “an avid and passionate lover” of soccer.

According to Commissioner Garber, Minnesota offers the “perfect recipe for success” in MLS.  What remains unclear, however, is the team’s stadium plan, and how United plans to finance a new facility near the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market.  While Garber mentioned a “great plan” for the stadium, he didn’t offer any specifics.  Some of McGuire’s partners include the Pohlad family, who own the Minnesota Twins, and Glen Taylor, owner of both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Star Tribune.  Using flowery language, Garber described a downtown outdoor stadium in Minneapolis serving as a “cathedral for our league”.  McGuire’s group was chosen over a group led by the owners of the Vikings, who would have had the team play in the Vikings’ new indoor stadium.

While soccer has an avid fanbase outside of the US, its popularity in America itself has been fairly limited for a while now, shadowed by Americans’ intense love of sports such as football and baseball.  It’s really only been in the past 20 years or so that soccer has really gained that much popularity among mainstream American sports fans, and even today it very much remains a fringe sport in comparison with other sports.  America cares every summer the World Cup shows up, but the passion seems to fade away at the start of football season.  Nonetheless, every year, soccer’s fanbase in the US seems to be growing, and this recent announcement in Minneapolis only seems to confirm that.

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