Less than seven months before it kicks off its first game, MLS has given the green light for the expansion team Minnesota United FC to begin play in 2017. Minnesota United FC will retain the name it
has used in the NASL in recent years and will play at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of University of Minnesota in Minneapolis until its soccer stadium in St. Paul is opened.
NAME. That Minnesota United FC will keep its name came something of a surprise as MLS had expressed concern that three teams with the name "United" would
be one too many. D.C. United is an MLS original, and Atlanta United FC begins play in 2017 with 22,000 season tickets already sold.
MLS went so far as to file a trademark application for
“Minnesota FC" but was talked out of the name change by Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire, who urged that the team keep the name to reflect the club's roots and also connection to
more than one city. (It currently plays in suburban Blaine.)
McGuire said the support of Minnesota fans for the current name won the day.
STADIUM. When MLS first announced a
move to Minnesota, the plan was to build a stadium in Minneapolis, but McGuire's group failed to garner local support and then turned its attention to St. Paul after the MLS deadline for a financing
plan passed in July 2015.
Plans for the 20,000-seat soccer stadium and development centered on the Snelling-Midway neighborhood in St. Paul, but McGuire's group was reluctant to sign off
on the deal without state approval on a property tax exemption, a sales tax exemption on construction materials and a liquor license.
The St. Paul city council agreed to plans for the
stadium site and other development on Wednesday, but state legislation to grant Minnesota United FC its property tax exemption was not signed because of an error wording in the omnibus bill unrelated
to the soccer stadium.
Governor Mark Dayton said the tax measures related to the stadium would be included in 2017 legislation though a special session to rectify the omnibus
bill he wouldn't sign won't take place.
Minnesota United FC hopes to open in its new soccer stadium in 2018.
Lagos, who began his playing career under his father Buzz Lagos with the Minnesota Thunder, is Minnesota United FC's sporting director and responsible for building the MLS team.
Manny Lagos, who coached the Minnesota Stars and then Minnesota United FC in the first five NASL seasons, will have access to players on the current NASL team though none is currently signed to an
MLS contract for 2017. Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United FC will also take part in an expansion draft after the 2016 MLS season.
Six current players were 2015 NASL Best XI picks with
the Loons or other teams: defender Justin Davis and Kevin Venegas, midfielders Lance Laing and Ibson and forwards Christian Ramirez and Stefano Pinho.
Steward Ceus, Jeb Brovsky, Aaron Pitchkolan, Danny Cruz, Bernardo Anor (on loan from Sporting Kansas City), Ben Speas, Jamie Watson and
Damion Lowe (on loan from the Seattle Sounders) all have MLS experience.