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Major League Soccer commissioner backs St. Paul stadium; details await

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The leader of Major League Soccer has endorsed a St. Paul site as a home for a Minnesota entry in the sport's top U.S. league.

In a Monday interview with ESPN 1500, MLS Commissioner Don Garber acknowledged there are still issues to be ironed out before a soccer stadium for Minnesota United can be finalized, but expressed confidence those matters can be arranged by 2017 or 2018, MPR News reports.

The 10-acre vacant lot in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood is owned by the Metropolitan Council, which operated a Metro Transit garage there for decades until 2002.

An ownership transfer would presumably need to be arranged and, while St Paul and Ramsey County have voted to keep the site off the property tax rolls, state approval would also be needed.

Owners of Minnesota United, which currently plays in the second-tier North American Soccer League, have said they also want the Legislature to approve a sales tax exemption for the purchase of construction equipment and materials to build a privately funded stadium that would seat about 19,000.

While MLS Commissioner Garber focused on St. Paul during Monday's visit, Minneapolis City Council member Barbara Johnson tells the Pioneer Press prospects for a soccer stadium there are not dead until a St. Paul deal is finalized.

When Minnesota was awarded an MLS franchise in March, it was with the expectation that a plan for a $150 million Minneapolis stadium would be completed. But when the Minneapolis deal was not in place by mid-summer, Coleman and others in St. Paul stepped up the push for the site in the Capital city.

As Sports Illustrated reports, MLS added two new teams for the current season and plans to add a few more by 2018.

Garber told the Associated Press last week that MLS teams are enjoying record attendance but the league is not yet profitable, adding "We're still in investment mode."

Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal reports Minnesota United has hired a sports banking investment firm to raise $100 million to $150 million to fund the team's new Twin Cities stadium.

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