Vikings have competition for MLS team

The Vikings aren’t alone in their pursuit of bringing Major League Soccer to Minnesota.

The jockeying is intensifying for two groups hoping to land a Major League Soccer franchise in Minnesota.

The Vikings’ new stadium deal includes a 5-year period when they have sole rights to operate an MLS team in the $1 billion stadium. But that doesn’t mean an MSL franchise could only go to the Vikings, and a group that includes the Pohlad family — owners of the Twins — and former UnitedHealth Group executive and Minnesota United FC soccer team owner Bill McGuire is interested too.

The latter group is eying a site just west of Target Field in downtown Minneapolis for a new soccer-only stadium.

“We are focused on bringing a professional soccer championship to Minnesota this year,” said Minnesota United president Nick Rogers. “We have shown this is a great market for professional soccer and our fans have proved that week in and week out by attending our games.”

The group could face some obstacles. City Council President Barb Johnson said it doesn’t make sense for the city to help pay for that when it’s funding a big part of the Vikings stadium.

The venue would lose at least $340,000 each year if it doesn’t house a professional soccer team, according to projected revenues. The Vikings stadium is relying on that revenue, said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing the publicly subsidized Vikings stadium.

“The Legislature was very clear that they would like to see another tenant in our building, and try to leverage the investment that the state and the city have already made,” she said.

MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said there is still plenty of time for the league to make a decision and it has yet to set a timeline.

It’s possible that McGuire’s group and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf could team up on the soccer franchise, but the team has said the two groups are not in communication.

“We’ve been direct and open about what our intentions are,” Vikings executive Lester Bagley said. “There’s not a discussion going on with Dr. McGuire.”

Other cities such as Sacramento, Las Vegas and San Antonio are also competing for an MLS franchise.

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