Almost a year and a half after Minnesota was first awarded an MLS expansion team, it was announced on Friday that Minnesota United FC will officially join the league for the 2017 season.
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber and Minnesota United majority owner Dr. Bill McGuire announced the news at an event in St. Paul on Friday, also revealing that the club will maintain its club name and identity as it transitions from the second-division NASL to MLS.
“We have made great strides in the months since MLS expansion plans were announced,” McGuire said in a statement provided by the team, “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.”
The team also announced that it will temporarily play in Minneapolis at TCF Bank Stadium, the University of Minnesota’s 52,000-capacity football stadium, until their proposed soccer-specific home opens in St. Paul.
The club on Thursday received the green light from the St. Paul City Council for its privately-financed stadium plan and will next be seeking approval from the Minnesota legislature on a property tax exemption before beginning construction on a 21,500-seat soccer facility with plans for a 2018 opening.
“This opportunity will bring incredible revitalization to the heart of the Twin Cities – made possible by the catalyst of this proposed stadium and extensive community input,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “We are so excited to have Major League Soccer here in Minnesota, and to bring the world’s game to Saint Paul and to the entire region.”
Minnesota United was first extended an MLS invitation in March 2015 and immediately got to work on securing a site for a new stadium. After a proposed plan fell through in Minneapolis, the club turned its attention to St. Paul, eventually securing a site in the city’s Snelling-Midway community.
“We have designed what will be a state-of-the-art facility that is ideal for soccer and will optimize the experience for our diverse and passionate fans, as well as that of the players," said Dr. McGuire. "It complements the Snelling-Midway neighborhood and community, and we are confident that it will drive additional investment and development in the area.”
In addition to McGuire, who is the club’s principal owner, other Minnesota United FC investors include Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, among others.
Minnesota currently compete in the second-division NASL. They finished fourth in the league’s spring season standings and are currently fourth in the league’s fall season competition, five points clear in the race for the league’s fourth and final playoff spot.
The club, which has averaged an NASL-best 8,464 fans per home match this year, has begun accepting season ticket deposits for the 2017 MLS season at MNUnitedTickets.com.