The deafening silence shrouding MLS expansion to Minnesota, which is supposed to start play next season, is about to be lifted.
The league issued a press release on Tuesday stating that
Commissioner Don Garber
would attend an event Friday in the capital city of St. Paul. Mayor Chris Coleman
and team owner Bill McGuire
will join Garber in making "several
announcements," which are expected to include official notification of the team's launch in 2017 and its temporary home, along with its the team name to be used in MLS.
-- nicknamed "Loons," one of which is prominently displayed on the team crest -- currently plays in the North American Soccer League. At United’s last home game, fans were handed placards
reading “8.19.16. STP. Be there.” On the other side of the card read: “#NextStopMLS.”
Last year MLS awarded Minnesota an expansion franchise, which initially was
set to play in Minneapolis. When stadium plans lagged, aggressive moves by Coleman prompted McGuire to shift his attention to St. Paul and the construction of a $150 million stadium (capacity of
approximately 21,000) as the centerpiece of a redevelopment plan that goes before the St. Paul City Council on Wednesday.
A property-tax exemption to help fund the stadium was
passed by the state Legislature in the spring but was not budgeted because of a post-session veto by Governor Mark Dayton
, who questioned an error in the language of the legislation -- a
potential $101 million error because of an "or" instead of an "and" -- not related to the soccer facility.
League and team officials have researched sites for a possible venue for the
Minnesota team for 2017 and part of the 2018 season as well. That stadium is expected to be TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, but Minnesota United played a friendly against Mexican club
Leon attended by more than 18,000 fans at Target Field, baseball home of the Minnesota Twins and another possible venue.
Originally, construction was set to start in June for completion
sometime during the 2018 MLS season, but the property-tax snafu prevented work from starting.
MLS membership will increase to 22 teams next season with the additions of Atlanta United FC