MLS will have two new clubs joining it’s teams in 2017. In an announcement in St. Paul, Minnesota this evening, deputy owner Dr. Bill McGuire and MLS commissioner Don Garber officially named Minnesota United as the latest to join the top tier of American soccer. They will begin play in the 2017 season. Together with Atlanta United, they bring the league to 22 teams.
The Loons, as Minnesota United are called, have played in the second tier NASL since 2010. Early last year, the league invited them to be the next expansion franchise in MLS. “We have made great strides in the months since MLS expansion plans were announced,” said McGuire in a team issued statement, “and look forward to making the jump to Major League Soccer. This next step is an endorsement of our great state, people, and values, and we look forward to jointly building this team as an important piece of our community.”
Their accolades in the NASL include a league championship in 2011 and leading the league in attendance last year by averaging 8,464 fans per game. They finished fourth in the 2016 NASL spring season and currently sit in sixth place in the fall campaign.
There was a controversy over their name before this announcement. Since D.C. United already had United in their name and Atlanta United are also joining 2017, there are calls for the Minnesota franchise to rebrand. Today’s announcement confirmed the name, and the much beloved loon crest, will remain with the franchise as it comes to MLS.
The final hurdle for the team will be a soccer specific stadium. The ownership group has approval from the city of St. Paul to construct a privately financed stadium inn the Snelling-Midway neighborhood. They are now only seeking a tax exemption from the Minnesota legislature before construction can begin. The club hopes the 21,500 seat stadium will be ready for play in 2018. “This opportunity will bring incredible revitalization to the heart of the Twin Cities – made possible by the catalyst of this proposed stadium and extensive community input,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “We are so excited to have Major League Soccer here in Minnesota, and to bring the world’s game to Saint Paul and to the entire region.”
For next year, the club will play it’s home matches at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.