Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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According to a report by SI.com's Brian Straus, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is on the verge of signing a deal to bring Major League Soccer to Atlanta. The report says that the deal will be signed and announced one week from today, bringing the number of MLS teams to 22 - not counting the David Beckham-led franchise in Miami that is still searching for a stadium deal.
Assuming Miami ever takes the field, there would be one spot left in the original "24 teams by 2020" plan that MLS has bandied about. According to a league source mentioned in Straus's report, the frontrunner for the final spot is Minneapolis.
It is worth noting that the construction timeline for the new Falcons stadium is already behind the new Vikings stadium. Atlanta is scheduled to open their new football palace in 2017; Minnesota, meanwhile, is still slated for a fall 2016 opening.
As always, the same questions about a potential MLS franchise in the Upper Midwest remain: Who would own the team, the Vikings ownership group or Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire? If McGuire, where would the team play - and who would pay for what would likely be yet another new stadium in Minneapolis? No details of any kind have been forthcoming.
That said, an Atlanta announcement next week would be the culmination of years of rumors. Right now, Minneapolis is at the center of similar rumors; it seems like it may just be a matter of time for MLS in Minnesota.
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