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Vikings, stadium authority reach deal to run MLS team

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The Minnesota Vikings have reached a "business agreement" with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to put a Major League Soccer franchise inside the new Vikings stadium.

The Vikings team is one of two groups in Minnesota vying for one of the final expansion teams as the MLS hopes to grow to 24 teams by 2020.

According to the Pioneer Press, the agreement calls for the Vikings to pay $340,000 in annual rent to the MSFA and cover game-day expenses. The MSFA will own and operate the new $1 billion stadium that opens its doors in 2016.

"It shows the MLS that we are serious – the stadium authority and the Vikings," Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of stadium development and public affairs, told reporters on Friday.

Another ownership group is also interested in bringing an MLS expansion team to Minnesota. That group, led by Minnesota United FC owner, Bill McGuire, is interested in a soccer-specific stadium that would seat around 20,000 people.

A spot near the Minneapolis Farmers' Market has been discussed as a possible location, but it could be difficult for the group to get the public financing necessary for a new soccer-specific stadium.

"There is no doubt that the Twin Cities have some of the most passionate soccer fans in the country, and we will continue to monitor the market," MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche wrote in an email to the Associated Press.

The MLS has already awarded expansion clubs to New York, Orlando and Atlanta. Miami could be the front runner for another expansion team. Other cities vying to attract an MLS franchise include Las Vegas, Sacramento, St. Louis, Indianapolis, San Antonio and Austin, Texas.

Courtemanche said the league is looking for three things from an expansion bid: an ownership group with financial fortitude, a stadium (or a plan for one) and a market that can support a franchise.

For now it appears as if the MLS isn't ready to set a deadline, Courtemanche said they are still six years away from their goal.

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