Behind 'public' opposition to Minnesota soccer stadium

The successful Orlando City expansion bid owed a lot to Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer championing a downtown soccer stadium project. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star, is the symbol of the once-seemingly improbable Sacramento effort to become MLS's 24th or 25th team.

Now comes along Minnesota, which is expected to be announced as MLS's 23rd team on Wednesday despite Minnesota governor Mark Dayton's opposition to any state (or county) financial support for an outdoor stadium.

Minnesota Sports Facility Projects:
Xcel Energy Center (NHL Wild, cost: $170 million, opening: 2000)
Notable public support: State of Minnesota gave St. Paul a $65 million interest-free loan.

Target Field
(MLB Twins, cost: $522 million, opening: 2009)
Notable public support: Hennepin County imposed 0.15 percent sales tax covering $392 million.

CHS Field (Minor-league St. Paul Saints, $66 million, opening: 2015)
Notable public support: State of Minnesota and St. Paul funded $54 million.

Target Center (NBA Timberwolves, renovation cost: $99 million, to be completed: 2016)
Notable public support: Minneapolis provided $50 million from city sales tax.

New Minnesota Stadium (NFL Vikings, cost: $1.024 billion, opening: 2016)
Notable public support: State of Minnesota provided $348 million, Minneapolis' hospitality tax covered $150 million.

Dayton insists that the group assembled by Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire should not get public monies to fund a stadium being contemplated near the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

“I congratulate [McGuire’s group] on an apparent success bringing a team to Minnesota,” Dayton said, “and I think if they are doing so, they need to fully realize that this is something they’re going to have to pay for out of their own private resources.”

The irony is that MLS will hold its press conference Wednesday at Target Field, home of the baseball Twins and facility that only got built because the Minnesota legislature made sure a county referendum on the project -- Hennepin County imposed 0.15 percent sales tax covering $392 million of the cost of the stadium -- didn't take place.

McGuire, a former UnitedHealth Group executive, has put together a group that includes the Pohlad family, which owns the Twins, and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and beat out the Minnesota Vikings, who proposed playing indoors at their new $1 billion stadium -- for which Dayton supported the use of public funds.

As Star Tribune sports columnist Patrick Reusse points out, the political posturing against the Minnesota United group is not so much about protecting Minnesota taxpayers as protecting the Vikings and their owners, the Wilf family.

Dayton's opposition to public assistance for the soccer stadium follows that of Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a Wilf ally.

2 comments about "Behind 'public' opposition to Minnesota soccer stadium".
  1. Kent James, March 24, 2015 at 5:05 p.m.

    Ah the joys of the public financing of private ventures. Yes, it is hard to justify taxing the residents of Minnesota so that millionaires can enjoy their skyboxes (and keep their profits, too) in their new stadiums, and threaten to leave if they don't get their way. Of course, the finances of the MLS ain't quite as rosy for the owners as those of the NFL, so one could suggest a public subsidy would be in order (though it'd still be a hard sell). The main problem I have with these subsidies is that the public doesn't own the teams; if the Minnesota wants to justify a public subsidy for their stadium, they should sell shares to the public (like the Green Bay Packers), so the public can both have a stake, and more importantly, make sure the team stays to use the stadium they subsidize.

  2. BJ Genovese, March 24, 2015 at 7:32 p.m.

    And Sacramento was set and ready to go... MLS just had to have a presence in the heartland. I feel bad for SacFC as they got there ducks lined up and then scorned. Maybe they should just stay USL as thats going to be the new generation of better players fighting for relevance anyway. Media pundents who are mostly past MLS affiliates love talking about the professionalism in MLS that young players need to aquire. What a hoot. Its a game. Go play.... but keep your shoulders up and knees high you MLS specimens. MLS may not be able to keep up with the growing soccer IQ in this country.

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