Major League Soccer announced Saturday its expansion plans could be seven months away, a possible reprieve for one of the two Minneapolis groups seeking a franchise.
The extra time could benefit the group headed by former UnitedHealth Group executive Bill McGuire. He owns the Minnesota United FC soccer team and has not publicized plans for a stadium — a requirement by MLS.
But United President Nick Rogers stopped short of calling Saturday’s announcement beneficial.
“I don’t see it as a victory or a setback,” Rogers said. “There was not much in the league’s statement to react to.”
During the MLS Board of Governors meeting Saturday in Los Angeles, the League’s Expansion Committee provided a report on presentations made last month by both Minneapolis groups plus Las Vegas and Sacramento.
Board members “were very impressed with the strength of the four proposals from the three markets,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a release. “Our next step is to meet with each group to review outstanding questions and issues with respect to these markets.”
After those meetings, MLS “will announce a final selection process for this expansion round,” Garber said. “Our goal is to announce the next MLS expansion market during the first six months of 2015.”
McGuire’s group includes the Pohlad family, owner of the Twins, and Glen Taylor, owner of the Timberwolves. They enlisted the help of Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat, an indication the group will seek some form of public subsidy for its stadium. Opat said last week he has not been asked to support a specific public subsidy package for a stadium.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, meanwhile, boasts a new $1 billion football stadium that will open in 2016 and would be MLS-ready the following season.
The league’s lack of a decision on Saturday did not concern the Vikings, spokesman Lester Bagley said.
“We respect the process, and we feel we have a strong bid that was well-received by the MLS owners,” Bagley said. “We have three things that are key to them: market strength, passionate and committed ownership and a stadium solution.”
Star Tribune staff writer Mike Kaszuba contributed to this report.