Minnesota United FC will play a historic match against English Premier League club Swansea City on July 19 at Blaine’s National Sports Center Stadium.
This match marks the first time a Premier League club will play in Minnesota and a rare game against a North American Soccer League club. United President Nick Rogers called playing Swansea City a “thrill and an honor.”
“English Premier League is probably the most-watched league in the world,” Rogers said. “It’s one of the top-four leagues in world along with Germany, England and Spain.”
The 2013-14 season marked the first of a three-year NBC television contract with the Premier League worth $250 million. NBC said 4.9 million viewers tuned in to watch U.S. English-language coverage last Sunday of the 10 matches on the final day of the Premier League season.
Swansea City, which placed 12th in the 20-team Premier League, is playing in Minnesota as part of a United States preseason tour. The club will hold training camp beginning July 6 in Chicago and faces Chivas Guadalajara of Mexico on July 16 in Milwaukee.
Rogers downplayed the high-profile match playing a role in positioning Minnesota as a candidate for a Major League Soccer expansion team.
He said the Wales-based club was looking for an additional opponent in close proximity. Minnesota gained attention in March on a 10-day preseason tour of England, where it was the first North American club to stay at St. George’s Park, home of the English National Team.
“This opportunity flows directly from that trip,” Rogers said. “We met the promoter of this match face-to-face at St. George’s Park and this is match against Swansea City is the type of opportunity we hoped would present itself.”
Rogers said he is excited about the chance to “feature some of the most talented players in the world at an intimate venue.” The National Sports Center Stadium seats about 7,500.
The game will be the first of two chances for fans to see an English Premier League team play in Minnesota. On Aug. 2 Manchester City plays Olympiacos from Superleague Greece in a locally televised match at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota United will play host to the Ottawa Fury in a second match that day at the stadium.
Interest in local, big-time professional soccer is growing. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has a five-year exclusive right to try to bring a Major League Soccer team to the new stadium. Meanwhile, Twins president David St. Peter said he would “never say never” to having Twins officials invest financially in McGuire’s plans for a soccer-specific stadium.
Rogers said the goal is treating fans to a unique soccer experience, not sending up a flare for MLS.
“To be honest, this match has nothing to do with MLS positioning,” Rogers said. “We’re trying to grow a great and viable club here and part of that is getting your fans to see a great event. MLS didn’t enter into the discussion.”
For ticket information, go to www.mnunitedfc.com.
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574