MN United hopes lawmakers will pass stadium tax breaks in special session


The Minnesota United is hoping to use the special session of the state Legislature to see whether the team can get tax breaks on its $150 million soccer stadium plan.

The club is expected to present a plan for a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis to Major League Soccer on July 1, the building of which is necessary for the franchise to enter MLS in 2018.

Owner Bill McGuire has promised to fund the construction of the $150 million, 18,500-capacity stadium privately, in exchange for tax relief on construction materials and an exemption on property tax, but the legislative session ended Monday with no decision made on the request, which has been met with opposition among certain city and state lawmakers.

There is hope a decision could be made this year however, as Gov. Mark Dayton's decision to veto the education bill put forward by the House and Senate will see lawmakers meet in a special session this summer.

McGuire told MPR News he intends to keep on pushing lawmakers to make a decision, saying: "I think there's still a special session to come. So our attitude is we'll continue to explore this and see if there's a way to make it happen."

"We feel that our stadium proposal, which is unprecedented and involves no governmental funds for the stadium construction, creates the basis for moving forward in a positive partnership with the community," President Nick Rogers said on the club's website.

Are the MLS plans in jeopardy?

Some of those opposing the tax breaks have cited "stadium fatigue" given that public funds have been used to build the Vikings Stadium, Target Field and TCF Bank in recent years – even though Minnesota United have requested no direct funding for its stadium.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is among those against the tax breaks, saying a property tax exemption on a privately-owned stadium would be "unprecedented" and cost the city $4.2 million-a-year, though supporters have pointed out construction would regenerate an unloved corner of downtown Minneapolis.

McGuire has also indicated a willingness to consider allowing the stadium to be publicly owned once it's built.

FOX Sports notes there is support for the project from Hennepin County, and adds that enough city council support could override a veto from Mayor Hodges.

But the July 1 deadline is of particular concern, with FOX Sports asking both McGuire and Rogers whether the ownership can go ahead with its stadium plan without tax breaks being ratified by then.

"I don't want to speculate," Rogers said. "We've said what we think we need to do to move forward, and that's around these particular tax measures. We're still pursuing that, and I'm very hopeful. I'm very hopeful that we'll get something done here. I don't want to get into speculating about, 'What if we don't?'"

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