Exciting news has come to Minnesota sports fans. On Friday, August 19th , Minnesota United FC held an event at CHS Field in Saint Paul to officially announce they will be joining Major League Soccer in 2017. This news comes after the Saint Paul city council voted to move forward with a new soccer stadium to be built between Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
The new stadium will seat 20,000 fans, which is double the capacity for the current facility NSC Stadium in Blaine. The location of the new stadium will fall at Snelling Avenue and Interstate 94, almost exactly halfway between Minneapolis and Saint Paul; it’s seven and a half miles to Minneapolis and five miles from downtown Saint Paul. The building site is currently a depot for out-of-service buses and is owned by the city. The agreement for creating the stadium relies on utilizing private funding with an exemption on property tax; the stadium will remain a public facility after completion in October 2018. Mayor Chris Coleman did not hide his enthusiasm for the project at the press conference releasing the stadium plan.
“I am thrilled that the team wants to work with the community to build a stadium here in Saint Paul. A soccer stadium will provide an important catalyst for the redevelopment of the entire area – creating jobs, spurring housing and new commercial opportunities, and building on our commitment to transit-oriented development.
With an agreed framework for the construction of this stadium, we are confident that working with the community, our local and state partners and with one another, we can complete the process necessary to bring MLS to Minnesota.”
Many fans were excited as well to learn that the club will not be changing its identity. As the move into MLS advances, the team will remain Minnesota United FC. This was happily accepted as Minnesotan soccer fans have had to deal with several club name changes in the past. After being the Kicks, the Strikers, the Thunder, and the Stars, the present name has been written in stone. It is also worth noting that Minnesota has never had a top-league soccer franchise of any name. The United are no slouches either, regularly finishing the season in the top five.
The next step for the club will be acquiring new sponsorship and trying to attract new team signings. Playing in the top flite will demand a new class of player, and with new revenue will come the opportunity for potential big name signings. This will only help the club grown its fan base and make every match worth watching.
With the enthusiasm behind the stadium proposal and the official MLS announcement, it would be hoped that the positive waves would carry onto the field. If they can gain momentum, and get positive results from their strong striker Christian Ramirez, they will have little trouble making entry to the final season tournament. Though the club is moving up they must continue to battle and prove themselves worthy of their accreditation.
By Sam Stinogel