One day after the United States won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Jeff Plush said Minnesota would be a good market for a professional women’s soccer team.
Plush is the commissioner of the three-year-old National Women’s Soccer League, which had 53 players from its nine teams participate in the just-concluded Women’s World Cup. The women represented 10 different countries, and every team in the NWSL had at least one goal scorer in the World Cup.
Two of the NWSL’s nine teams — Houston and Portland — are owned by Major League Soccer men’s teams that play in the same city, an important point since Minnesota has recently been awarded a MLS team. The NWSL also has teams in Chicago, Boston, Kansas City and Seattle.
“We view Minneapolis as a fantastic market,” said Plush. “Minneapolis is [a] top — whatever — 15 market in the United States, [with] passionate fans.”
But Plush said he has not spoken to Bill McGuire, the former UnitedHealth Group chief executive who is leading a group trying to bring a MLS team to Minnesota. Although McGuire’s group has been awarded an expansion franchise, and faced a July 1 deadline for finalizing a stadium plan, the group and MLS is now looking at possible stadium locations in St. Paul because of a resistance to giving the team a subsidy package to build a stadium.
McGuire had said he would prefer to build a soccer-only stadium in downtown Minneapolis near the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field.
“We have not yet talked to anyone from Minneapolis but, obviously, Mr. McGuire, they’ve had their plate very full getting the MLS club awarded,” said Plush. “We would enjoy coming up there, having a chat.”
Nick Rogers, the president of Minnesota United FC, the lower-level pro soccer team already owned by McGuire, said such a marriage might make sense.
“The enthusiasm for high-level soccer in Minnesota continues to grow and — if and when we are able to build a downtown, soccer-specific facility — we would certainly investigate whether adding a NWSL team here in Minnesota is something that would make sense,” Rogers said in a statement.