Minnesota gets an MLS team, now focus turns to funding stadium


No sooner had Minnesota got its own Major League Soccer team, than the debate started over funding for its future stadium.

The MLS announced Wednesday that a bid backed by the owners of Minnesota United would be joining the country's premier soccer league in 2018 – provided it can build a stadium.

The team – owned by former UnitedHealth Group CEO Bill McGuire and backed by the Pohlad family and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor – plans to build an 18,500-seat, soccer-specific outdoor stadium adjacent to Minneapolis Farmers Market, according to MinnPost.

The club has said it intends to reveal stadium plans by July 1, but Governor Mark Dayton has already moved quickly to re-iterate the position that there is unlikely to be state funding for a stadium – with early indications suggest it will cost between $150-$200 million.

Following the massive $500 million taxpayer outlay on the Vikings Stadium, as well as similarly hefty contributions to Target Field and TCF Bank in the past decade, Dayton said: "I just think politically – I think the term 'stadium fatigue' describes it," according to the Star Tribune.

"That's with the Legislature, myself, the public. I just don't think there's any public appetite for taking on the financing of another stadium."

WCCO reports that McGuire has said the owners won't be asking for a new tax for the stadium, but said that "public help" can come in several different forms.

Infrastructure funding a possibility

Support could come in the form of Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who Fox Sports reports is backing McGuire's plan, and though money will not be provided from the sales-tax increase used to pay for Target Field, there are other options that could smooth the path for Minnesota United.

Fox Sports reports that funding from the state, county or city could be available to pay for infrastructure improvements in the area around the stadium, a part of the city that has long-required revitalization and in the coming years will have a light rail station installed as part of the Green Line expansion.

While not keen on paying for another stadium, Gov. Dayton has not ruled out that there could be funding for infrastructure.

Tom Powers, of the Pioneer Press, suggests that McGuire and the rest of United's backers very likely have a plan in place to get the stadium funded and built, but by not elaborating any details about said funding at this stage, they could be "dipping a toe" to see whether any public assistance could be forthcoming.

"The more of their own dough they put up, the more popular they are going to be and the greater their chances of success," Powers wrote. "The longer the notion of a subsidy hovers over the landscape, the more skeptical people are going to be about the whole operation."

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