The group looking to bring an MLS franchise to the Twin Cities is looking to grow.
Twins owner Jim Pohlad, whose family is one of the known groups ready to invest in the team, confirmed what has been speculated, that there is an ongoing search for more investors to bring big-league soccer to the Twin Cities.
“We continue to look for additional investors for the equity in the team,” Pohlad said. “If we can end up with a group of eight to 10 investors all owning [an] equal part of the equity, everyone would be happy with that. If someone wanted to come in with more, we would certainly entertain that. But the concept of having a group of equal investors is what we are shooting for.”
Dr. Bill McGuire, former chief executive of UnitedHealth Group who owns soccer club Minnesota United FC, leads the group and has been the frontman in securing a site for a soccer-specific stadium. Others known to be involved include the Pohlad family, Wendy Carlson Nelson of the hospitality company Carlson, and Glen Taylor, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Star Tribune.
Sports investment bank Galatioto Sports Partners has been hired by the group to help with the search. Galatioto has been in discussions with potential investors as the group determines just what shape the ownership structure will take.
The group as structured has the financial muscle to pull off the transaction.. United FC President Nick Rogers said that potential new partners could help grow the brand in other ways.
“There are strategic types of partnerships and relationships that certainly come to bear,” Rogers said. “It’s the right partner and the right situation.”
The group is willing to make more than a $200 million commitment — which includes about $120 million for the stadium — to get MLS balls rolling in the Twin Cities. There’s no guarantee MLS in the Twin Cities will be a moneymaking venture in the early years. Even if the group seeks strategic partnerships, having more investors sharing equity in the franchise doesn’t hurt.
The group initially sought to build a stadium at the Farmers Market near downtown Minneapolis but requested property and sales tax breaks on construction materials to help with costs. Minneapolis turned down the request, and St. Paul became a serious option in July. A 10-acre parcel of land near the intersection of Snelling Avenue and University Avenue has emerged as the favored site, as some believe a stadium there could spark redevelopment in the area. Minneapolis has not been ruled out as an option, but St. Paul is the heavy favorite to be the home of the franchise.
“Within reason, I would be very pleased as long as the whole idea of getting MLS soccer here in the Twin Cities continues to move forward,” Pohlad said. “I’m sure I could develop a list of places I would not like to see it. As far as the Midway site goes, everyone is very happy with the prospects for that.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber gave the site a thumbs-up during a September visit, but many hurdles remain. The location has to be officially approved by the league, which could happen during its December meeting. Any tax relief has to be approved by the Legislature, and details on a lease could take several weeks or even months to be hammered out.