From the beginning, futbol purists were adamant in saying a domed stadium goes counter to the spirit of soccer – even in Minnesota. On Friday, Sports Illustrated reported that the Wilf family has lost out to luring Major League Soccer to Minnesota – not because MLS isn’t awarding Minnesota an expansion franchise, but because MLS is giving it someone else.
MSL is expected to grant an expansion franchise to the existing Minnesota United franchise of the North American Soccer League in order to get some high-profile, deep-pocketed sports owners involved in co-branding with the MSL – not an uncommon practice in pro sports ownership. Last October, Minnesota United owner Dr. Bill McGuire took on Twins owner Jim Pohlad and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor into his investment group looking to make a push for an outdoor stadium in downtown Minneapolis tucked in between Target Field and the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market location.
That union of owners came at a time last year when both the Vikings and the McGuire group made their pitch in the MLS headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Since then, the steam has been growing that Vikings chances of landing a MLS franchise would lose out to the McGuire group.
The crux of the argument seemed to center on the fact that the new Vikings stadium would be so massive, it would lose the innate outdoor atmosphere so intrinsic with soccer and that games could draw 20,000 to 30,000 fans and still make the stadium look largely empty.
It also appears as though Minneapolis government leaders and the business community was in favor of the alternate proposal to that of the Vikings. It has been made clear throughout that Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota are done helping fund new stadiums in Minneapolis. If a state of the art soccer-intensive facility is going to be built, it’s going to be done with private dollars.
From the political and business side of things, having a new soccer stadium built without public dollars makes a lot of sense. Considering that the Vikings stadium will be completed regardless of whether MLS chose to approve a franchise to the Wilfs or not, it’s a lot more revenue coming into downtown Minneapolis to construct another (albeit less palatial) stadium on the private dime from start to finish.
Last week, the MLS office announced that an official decision would be announced by the end of April as to which bidding group will receive the franchise award. However, it would appear, barring an 11th hour move that confounds and gobsmacks, the deal is done and it won’t include the new Vikings stadium.