With owner for Stars set, questions emerge about MLS

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2012 - 7:02 AM

William McGuire's decision to buy the NASL franchise clashes with the Vikings' new ties to Major League Soccer.

William McGuire's sudden emergence on the professional soccer stage in the Twin Cities left one big unanswered question: How will his presence help or hinder the Vikings owners' attempt to land a Major League Soccer team in their new stadium?

McGuire, former head of the UnitedHealth Group and one of Minnesota's richest private executives, was introduced Thursday as the new owner of the Minnesota Stars FC, the financially troubled North American Soccer League team.

He immediately brought an up-tempo presence to the team, saying that he wanted to average 10,000 fans next year -- the Stars average fewer than 3,000 fans now -- and had even explored the possibility of the team playing at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.

"It's difficult for me not to be involved, if I'm involved," McGuire told a large crowd at a downtown Minneapolis bar. McGuire, who declined to say how much money he expected to invest in his latest endeavor, was given a Stars jersey with the No. 13, indicating the first year he would be its owner.

While acknowledging he was unsure where the team would play its games -- it has been playing at Blaine's National Sports Center -- McGuire said he had already looked into possibly playing at the university's football stadium. "Whether or not [soccer] could be accommodated [at the U] in a way that would make sense [we'll] have to explore," he said.

He did, however, indicate that the Stars would likely play their season opener next year at the Metrodome, and probably most of its other home games in Blaine.

But much of Thursday's announcement, which was cheered loudly by soccer fans at the briefing, centered on how McGuire's entry would impact the Vikings, whose owners have exclusive but temporary rights to land an MLS franchise once the team's new stadium is built. While the Stars are considered to be -- talentwise -- a notch below MLS teams, McGuire noted that the Stars had recently beaten an MLS team.

McGuire said that he and Mark Wilf, the Vikings president, had recently talked about soccer, but the conversation did not go into details.

"We really have put the soccer discussion" on the "back burner" while the stadium is being built, Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president for stadium development and public affairs, said in reaction to McGuire's comments.

MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said that, beyond adding a team in the New York City area, the league has had "exploratory discussions" for franchises in Minnesota, Orlando, Atlanta and Miami. When the Vikings have been in New York City for NFL meetings, "they've stopped by our offices," he said, adding that MLS officials had not had any talks with McGuire.

Many seemed surprised by McGuire's move. Mark Stenglein, the new president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, a business group, said it seemed inevitable that Major League Soccer would come to Minnesota but wondered whether McGuire and Wilf would compete for fans. Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chairwoman of the public body overseeing the building of the new Vikings stadium, said she immediately quizzed Bagley on McGuire's impact.

"Who's to say that they can't work out some deal?" said Dave Laidig, a Stars season-ticket holder, said of McGuire and the Vikings.

McGuire, who took over as president of UnitedHealth in 1989, oversaw its rise to the nation's second-largest health insurer. But McGuire also was involved in a federal Securities and Exchange Commission investigation for backdating stock options, a controversy that forced McGuire out of the company and led UnitedHealth to pay $900 million to settle shareholder lawsuits.

Outside Thursday's news conference announcing McGuire's new role with the Stars, a man handed out leaflets calling attention to McGuire's past problems. "Now he can use his dirty money to become the celebrated owner of a high-profile professional sports team," said Roger Cuthbertson, who passed out the leaflets.

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati - LP: D. Corcino 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 3
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Sale 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 8
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 0 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 2
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: C. Wilson 5
Texas - WP: R. Ross Jr. 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Doolittle 1
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 5 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 2
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you support Wednesday's decision to sideline Adrian Peterson again?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close