MLS, Minnesota United in “advanced negotiations” on Expansion

Staff Writer

In separate but simultaneous statements on Monday, Major League Soccer and Minnesota United FC confirmed reports that the two sides are in “advanced discussions” about bringing an expansion team to the Twin Cities.

MLS is “particularly excited about [United’s] plans for a new soccer-specific stadium that will serve as the club’s home,” Don Garber wrote in a statement for the league. An official announcement will be made within “30-45 days.”

Minnesota United currently plays in the second-tier NASL. Their average attendance was the second-highest in that league in 2014, behind only Indy. The club has proposed an outdoor, soccer-specific stadium in downtown Minneapolis, and reportedly have made progress in making that a reality.

As a market, Minneapolis appeals to MLS on multiple levels. It is the 15th largest television market in the United States, and one of the largest without an MLS team. A team in Minnesota expands the league’s reach in the midwest, where only Chicago and Kansas City currently have teams.

United was competing for the expansion slot with bids from the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the USL’s Sacramento Republic. The Vikings wanted to place an MLS team in their new football stadium, which is already under construction.

In a statement, Vikings ownership said “we are pleased to see [MLS] believe[s] in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market.”

Despite the news about Minnesota, the Sacramento Republic and the city’s mayor have both expressed optimism that the California capital is next in line.

“We are in the best position of any market for the next MLS franchise and look forward to continuing our full pitch to MLS,” said lead owner Kevin Nagle. “Sacramento is very much in play for the next round,” said Mayor Kevin Johnson.

The league’s statement mentioned Sacramento, Las Vegas, San Antonio and St. Louis, but not Miami. Last year, David Beckham announced that he would be bringing the then-22nd MLS team to South Florida, but those plans have stalled in the absence of a suitable stadium. Atlanta and Minneapolis have now both cut in line ahead of Miami, and some assume that Sacramento will soon do the same for the 24th spot.

Until now, MLS has only said that it wanted 24 teams in the league by 2020. Today’s statement, however, acknowledged the widely-held belief that expansion will not stop there.

“Over the course of 2015, we plan to evaluate potential expansion beyond 24 clubs,” wrote Garber.

Even at 24 teams, MLS would be one of the largest top-flight leagues in the world. The Argentine Primera currently has 30 teams, but it plans to reduce this total down to 22 over the next several seasons.

FIFA guidelines recommend that top flight leagues are no larger than 20 clubs, but that is to prevent teams from playing too many games. With MLS’s conference structure, this is not a concern.

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  • The Don

    My dream is to crush the NASL!

  • ColBerdan

    Columbus is in the Midwest too, yeah?

  • Roman Reigns is getting screwed by everybody!

    Looks like Ziggy Wilf didn’t offer enough money for an MLS team. And you people darn well know it’s all about money.

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