road to expansion

Feb. 20, 2014: Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber identifies Minnesota as a potential expansion site for his league when it expands to 24 teams by 2020. Two potential Minnesota ownership groups — the Wilf family, owners of the Vikings, and United FC soccer owner Bill McGuire — intend to push for a team.

September, 2014: Garber visits the Twin Cities and the two ownership groups. While the Wilfs offer a ready-for-prime-time stadium in U.S. Bank, it’s revealed McGuire’s ownership group includes the Pohlad family, owners of the Twins, and Glen Taylor, owner of the Timberwolves and the Star Tribune.

Oct. 30, 2014: The McGuire ownership group looks at land west of Target Field to build a new soccer stadium. But Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson said she would look unfavorably at helping fund a soccer stadium, in part because the city is linked financially with the new Vikings stadium.

Nov. 20, 2014: Representatives of the two ownership groups make their pitch for an expansion team before MLS officials in New York City.

March 12, 2015: The McGuire group pulls ahead of the Wilf group after receiving a letter of support from MLS. The letter details conditions McGuire must meet to secure a franchise, including finalizing plans and funding for a proposed outdoor stadium.

March 25, 2015: At a festive news conference at Target Field, Garber announces the McGuire group will receive an expansion franchise, but Garber makes it clear the franchise is linked to building a 20,000-seat stadium just west of Target Field.

April 14, 2015: McGuire meets with legislators seeking a property tax exemption he claims is a fiscal necessity and a sales tax break on construction materials for the new stadium. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk called it a “modest proposal,” but nearly impossible without city and county support. That same day, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges voices strong opposition to any public help building a new soccer stadium.

June 15, 2015: MLS left the future of a Minnesota franchise in doubt, saying it is sticking to a July 1 deadline for the McGuire group to finalize its plan for a soccer-only stadium in Minneapolis. The Legislature adjourns without tackling funding, and McGuire hasn’t been able to generate support from city and county officials for a Minneapolis stadium.

July 1, 2015: The deadline for a stadium plan in Minneapolis expires. MLS officials say they will listen to St. Paul’s plans for a stadium before pulling the plug on a Minnesota expansion team.

Aug. 11, 2015: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman leads MLS officials on a tour of a proposed St. Paul stadium site in the Midway neighborhood.

Aug. 26, 2015: The St. Paul City Council goes on record saying it will approve a property tax exemption if a new stadium is built in the city.

Oct. 23, 2015: McGuire and St. Paul officials hold a news conference to announce the city has MLS support for the expansion franchise originally awarded pending a downtown Minneapolis stadium.

May 23, 2016: The Legislature approves a property tax exemption and liquor license for the St. Paul stadium, but those breaks aren’t signed by Gov. Mark Dayton because of an accounting error in a larger construction bill of which the stadium was a small part.

July 21, 2016: McGuire says he is operating “on the good faith” Dayton and legislators will ultimately approve the tax breaks.

Aug. 19, 2016: MLS Commissioner Garber announces at a St. Paul news conference that Minnesota’s expansion team will begin play in 2017. With groundbreaking on a new stadium in the Midway neighborhood not started, the team will play at least one season at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

DENNIS BRACKIN