In the end, the way Don Garber tells it, time is meaningless.
At least when it comes to Minnesota United FC’s new stadium possibly opening in 2019 instead of 2018.
“Our hope is they get in there and get their stadium up and going as soon as possible,” Major League Soccer’s commissioner said Wednesday. “But I’ve subscribed, and have always believed in, life’s a long time. You can get all worked up about this month or next month or three months, and five years from now, we’re not going to remember whether it came in six months after — or even six months before — everybody had hoped.”
The commissioner, speaking at Minnesota United’s headquarters in Golden Valley, was in town to meet with new league and United sponsor Target, as well as the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, among others.
But as far the Loons possibly having to play at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium through a second season because of various holdups, Garber wasn’t too concerned.
“I’ve been intimately involved in this stadium project, from dealing with the mayor and spending time with [team owner Bill] McGuire early on, way before we selected Minnesota as an expansion market,” Garber said. “I think they’ve got a great plan. Ground has been broken. That’s always a good sign. I think they’ll do what they need to do to get it done, and I’ll look forward to that.”
Garber added that he admired how McGuire, who probably would have preferred some public funding, knew it would be a hard to achieve that and thus figured out how to privately finance United’s stadium in order to bring the league to Minnesota.
While United is about to embark upon its inaugural season in the league, MLS is in process of finding four more teams to join in the coming years. There are 12 ownership groups and cities competing for clubs 25-28, with Los Angeles and Miami, presumably, being the next two most likely possibilities. The league currently has 22 clubs.
Not all of those interested bids will make it to the top division. But Garber thinks that will just serve to strengthen soccer in the U.S. as a whole.
“I believe that we need strong second and third and even fourth division leagues in the U.S. and Canada, and in order to do that, you need to have strong owners,” Garber said. “And if they’re not able to play in Major League Soccer, for whatever reason, including our own plans for how big we think the league ought to be, I don’t think they go away.
“As you start thinking about a league that is getting very close to fully expanded, the decisions we make about where we go becomes that much more important,’ Garber said. “We’ve got to make the right decisions on the market.”