Orphaned for two years, Minnesota's professional soccer team finally has an owner to call its own and will play in 2013.
The North American Soccer League announced that a local ownership group for the Minnesota Stars FC was approved Friday by the league's board of governors. League commissioner David Downs said a news conference to announce the new owners is planned for next Wednesday or Thursday in Minneapolis.
The league, which has owned the Stars for two years, had scheduled and then postponed a board vote last Saturday on whether to fund the team next year.
The Stars won the league championship in 2011 and finished as runner-up this season, which ended last Saturday.
"The team has represented Minnesota in NASL play in extraordinary fashion over the past two years, despite the lack of local owners,'' Downs said in a prepared statement. "We now have local owners for the team who are clearly committed and dedicated to promoting soccer as an integral part of the community."
Asked about the ownership group, Downs said: "I think they bring a certain amount of soccer knowledge. They are certainly fans of the Stars. But their No. 1 attribute is their roots in the community and their political and business clout. They have all that.
"They are absolutely dedicated to finding a long-range solution to the team. They are not getting involved for a short-term joyride."
Stars CEO Djorn Buchholz said the new ownership group has been exploring the possibility of owning the team for months. U.S. Soccer Federation guidelines call for a NASL majority owner to have a net worth of at least $20 million.
"They are first and foremost businesspeople who will figure out how to make this work and help us become a better organization,'' Buchholz said.
The Stars arose in 2010 out of the ashes of the Minnesota Thunder. The National Sports Center in Blaine, where the team plays its home games, owned the team for one season before the NASL took over in 2011.
The team opened the 2012 season at the Metrodome, seeking to draw more fans after finishing last in league attendance in 2011. The Stars drew an average of 2,796 fans this year, ranking fifth in the eight-team NASL.
The club expects to release more information on the Stars' 2013 schedule, venue and season-ticket prices in the next two to three weeks.
Staff writer Paul Klauda contributed to this report.