August 19, 2016
READY FOR 2017
Minnesota United FC will begin play next year
SAINT PAUL, Minn. --Despite not having a stadium ready, Minnesota United FC will begin play in Major League Soccer in 2017. The team is planning a new privately financed stadium in St. Paul, but will begin play at TCF Bank Stadium while their new facility is built.
The club will exit the North American Soccer League at the end of the current fall season, and will retain its name and logo upon entry to MLS. That will give the league three teams using the moniker United, following original MLS Club DC United, and another 2017 debutant, Atlanta United.
With the addition of the new team in Minnesota, 13 clubs have joined MLS since 2005, the two latest additions, both coming from former NASL markets.
“We have made great strides in the months since MLS expansion plans were announced,” said Minnesota United Owner Dr. William McGuire, “and look forward to making the jump to Major League Soccer. This next step is an endorsement of our great state, people, and values, and we look forward to jointly building this team as an important piece of our community.”
TCF Bank Stadium is on the campus of the University of Minnesota, near downtown Minneapolis. It's capacity for college football is listed as 52,525. Its not known if it will be downsized for MLS games.
McGuire's ownership group took over the flagging Minnesota NASL franchise in 2012, and created a group that included owners of the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Timberwolves to officially win an MLS expansion franchise in March of 2015, beating out the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, who wanted a team for the new stadium they open this coming season.
The entry of the Minnesota United FC to MLS marks the return of top flight soccer to the Twin Cities since the Minnesota Strikers played one season in the original NASL in 1984. The Minnesota Kicks, who played at Metropolitan Stadium from 1976-81 were the first pro club in the Twin Cities, and were among the best drawing clubs in the North American Soccer League, hitting their nadir in 1977 the year after their only appearance in the Soccer Bowl, when their average attendance hit 32,775.
The current team can trace its roots back to 1994 to the Minnesota Thunder who were part of the United Soccer Leagues until 2009. The Stars began play in 2010 as a team owned by the National Sports Center in Blaine, eventually changing hands and becoming known as Minnesota United FC.