With no Minneapolis stadium deal, soccer league will look at St. Paul

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Major League Soccer's Wednesday deadline for a stadium deal in Minneapolis came and went with no plan in place.

But before it gives up on the idea of a Minnesota expansion team, the league plans to see what St. Paul has to offer.

As the Pioneer Press reports, MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott told ESPN 1500 Wednesday the league wants to visit with St. Paul officials in the next few weeks about what stadium possibilities there may be in that city.

In March, MLS selected Minnesota as a location for an expansion team to start play in 2018. The choice, though, was contingent on investors getting a plan for a new downtown Minneapolis soccer stadium in place by July 1.

The investor group is led by former health care executive Bill McGuire. He owns Minnesota United, which is currently part of a minor league, the North American Soccer League.

United said in a statement Wednesday it remains committed to bringing an MLS team to Minnesota and is pleased the league plans to meet with St. Paul officials.

The Star Tribune notes that during Wednesday's radio interview Abbott said MLS' deadline for a Minneapolis deal is not being extended.

But on the other hand, Abbott also said that spending a few weeks considering the possibilities in St. Paul will give Minneapolis more time to put together a deal of its own, the Business Journal reports.

Soccer news blogs quickly offered their takes on Abbott's remarks, with Midfield Press saying the unofficial extension of the deadline signals that MLS feels the need to get involved in the push for a Twin Cities stadium.

Northern Pitch sees MLS playing one of the Twin Cities against the other in a time-honored business tradition.

The president of St. Paul's chamber of commerce told the Pioneer Press in June that two sites in the city could be suitable for a soccer stadium. One is now the location of a Sears store not far from the State Capitol. The other is next to Interstate 94 at Snelling Avenue, a site that was formerly a Metro Transit bus garage.

McGuire's group had planned to build a $150 million Minneapolis stadium with private money, but unsuccessfully sought tax breaks from the Legislature to make the project more financially viable.

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