Work on Minnesota United's $150 million new stadium is expected to start this summer, but fans will have to wait longer than they thought before they catch their first game there.
Tax breaks on property and sales taxes – the last thing holding up construction of the stadium at Snelling Avenue and Interstate 94 in St. Paul – were finally secured in a budget bill signed by Gov. Mark Dayton earlier this week.
But the delay in getting the tax breaks, which the club had hoped to secure last year, means the Loons aren't likely to be playing Major League Soccer at the stadium until spring 2019, United announced on Thursday.
The team had initially planned for the stadium, construction of which is being funded by the team's owners, to be open in time for the 2018 season, but the tax break delay means it will be staying at TCF Bank Stadium again next year.
The Star Tribune reported in March that United's deal with the University of Minnesota includes a provision it can keep playing there in 2018 if its new stadium isn't ready.
When complete, the Snelling-Midway stadium will have 19,600 seats, around 85 percent of which will be covered by a canopy circling the stadium. The outer shell will have LED lights that change color to reflect seasons, holidays and special events.
After a ceremonial groundbreaking this past December, United is hoping to officially break ground on construction early this summer.
So far, attendance at TCF Bank Stadium has been solid, showing interest in the Loons' foray into Major League Soccer is here to stay.
Soccer Stadium Digest says Minnesota United's average attendance through 13 weeks has been 20,511. This puts it at No. 10 out of the 22 MLS teams.
After a rocky start, United have improved to ninth out of 11 in the western conference, winning their latest game 1-0 against Orlando City this past weekend.