SBD/August 1, 2014/Franchises

Minneapolis' MLS Pursuit Heats Up Ahead Of Saturday's Doubleheader At TCF Bank Stadium

Manchester City will play Olympiacos in the Guinness Int'l Champions Cup before an NASL Minnesota United-Ottawa Fury match at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, but the "biggest competition, with an undetermined endgame, remains the pursuit" of an MLS franchise in Minnesota, according to Andy Greder of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The Vikings are a lead promoter of the Champions Cup and "consider the event a precursor to an increased focus this fall on a possible MLS bid." Meanwhile, Minnesota United Owner Bill McGuire "has invested heavily in his club, explores sites for a new stadium and quietly considers MLS possibilities." Alan Merrick, a former pro player and longtime advocate of soccer in Minnesota, said, "No one wants to make statements that will come back to haunt them, so I think they are both being very coy in their approach." But Greder notes the Vikings "are more open." The team "continues to talk with MLS leaders," as they visited the Timbers this summer and are "working on renderings and designs of what soccer could look like" in their new downtown stadium. Merrick said that both groups "have merit." For the Vikings, it is "the stadium," while for United, it is the "investment in the existing local pro team." Merrick said that support of Saturday's games "is crucial." Sales figures on Wednesday "eclipsed 30,000, which is well below the 45,778 averaged in the opening eight matches of the tournament." Merrick: "They need to get 35,000, 40,000 fans to show that people are interested, and that this is more than just a passing fancy" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/1). In Minneapolis, Michael Rand writes although Saturday's doubleheader "won’t determine which group could eventually be awarded an MLS franchise, the competition is clearly intensifying" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/1).
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