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Minnesota State Senate Passes Stadium Bill with MLS Provision

2012 May 10
by Brian Quarstad

The new $975 million Vikings Stadium proposed for Downtown Minneapolis at the site of the Metrodome was approved by the Minnesota State Senate this afternoon. The Senate, following the lead of the House who passed the bill at 3:30 a.m. this morning, approved the conference committee’s recommendation on a vote of 38-28. Then, just a few moments later, passed the bill by a vote of 36-30. The approval by the Senate was the final legislative hurdle for the stadium bill.
“We delivered,” said Senator Julie Rosen (R-Farmington) who sponsored and worked tirelessly on the stadium bill. “We are going to have first-class stadium we can all be very, very proud of.”

The bill will now be passed along to Governor Mark Dayton to sign into law. Later this month the Minneapolis City Council must sign off on the bill which is expected to be a formality.

IMS will continue to follow this story and attempt to get more information from the Vikings concerning their intentions concerning Major League Soccer.

35 Responses
  1. Kel permalink
    May 10, 2012

    Just for fun – what would you like the name of this “potential” MLS club to be?

    Minnesota Thunder FC? (brings up good memories)
    Minnesota Kicks FC? (NASL tradition)
    FC Minnesota? (sort of blah)
    Minnesota Stars FC (name it after that “semi-pro” team?)
    Viking FC? (or something along those lines?)
    FC Twin Cities?
    Or something totally else?

  2. Arsenalkid700 permalink
    May 10, 2012

    What semi-pro team. The North American Soccer League is a fully professional league. Same with the USL Pro (USL Professional).

  3. Soccer Boy a/k/a International Lover permalink
    May 10, 2012

    When MN gets a MLS team, I would like to see it named the “Minnesota Buzz” to honor Buzz Lagos and his vision for soccer in MN.

  4. May 11, 2012

    Yes, it was in reference to Senator Pam Wolf (R) District 51 (Blaine) who made that comment and new nothing about the professional soccer team in her district. Way to go Ms. Wolf!

  5. May 11, 2012

    Color me stunned. I can’t believe they actually did it especially with more gambling tied to the financing. I guess Minnesota is not so conservative after all.

    MLS team has got to be Thunder. Minnesota Norse works too and ties in with the Vikes.

  6. thesuperrookie permalink
    May 11, 2012

    I gotta think Kicks would be near the top of the list!

  7. Max permalink
    May 11, 2012

    What does this mean for the search to find an owner for the Stars?

  8. BrazilYinzer permalink
    May 11, 2012

    @Max
    That’s a really good question. It has to be either the Wilf’s or nobody at this point, right? If the Wilf’s are serious about MLS (and I am skeptical), then it makes sense to operate a NASL team as it has demonstrated to being a successful precursor to running a MLS team. I don’t see how anybody else would want the Stars at this point, since they’re now frozen out of the MLS for the next 8-10 years, and a MLS franchise would be one of the major incentives of reaching profitability (or at least asset growth) to justify all of the up front investments in getting and operating a NASL team.

  9. May 11, 2012

    Can you say lame-duck. The concern is it could leave the area vacant of soccer for years until that day actually happens – IF – it ever happens that MLS comes to Minnesota.

  10. Jeremy permalink
    May 11, 2012

    Where did the soccer field come from in right hand side of the picture? Is that the new MN Stars Training Facility?

  11. Bill permalink
    May 11, 2012

    Can someone direct me to an explanation of the Stars 8-10 year ineligibility situation? I’ve never heard of such a scenario anywhere in the sporting world. Is that league related or stadium/Wilf/exclusivity clause related?

    Chiming in on the naming debate, I work in branding and design in Minneapolis, and I’ve seen a lot of clients make brand decisions that are deeply meaningful only to the already indoctrinated. So as much as I like the idea of paying homage to Minnesota’s soccer history, I think that can be better served by signage in the stadium concourses. The name should say Minnesota. I think the Timberwolves is a great name. The Wild should have gone with Voyageurs. And the Vikings is pretty obvious. The day we have a real debate about a real MLS team… gad, I get goosebumps.

  12. Bill permalink
    May 11, 2012

    Is that you, Jeremy?

  13. jezapenguin permalink
    May 11, 2012

    i think the things that i am most concerned with are:

    –this exclusivity for the Vikings franchise puts the Stars in bigger limbo than before
    –the 5 year window the Vikings have for an MLS franchise starts once the first NFL game is played at the new stadium, so there may not be a definitive answer for the next 8-10 years
    –Wilf maybe the only owner recently to want MLS in Minnesota, but whose to say that doesn’t change in the next 10 years… with that exclusivity, it pretty much rules anyone else out unless they buy into the Vikings ownership group. seeing as there really wasn’t any interest in bringing the MLS here before Wilf, people back then could have said there was no interest. with the amount of wealth floating around these days, whose to say potential MLS Minnesota owners don’t pop up in the next 10 years (in there 30 or 40 somethings)

    @Kel

    I would like something simple like Minnesota FC or Minnesota SC, or maybe something that seems a bit odd to say/read like TC United or Twin Cities United… and for nickname have either the Stars, Thunder, or something new pop up. as a person in their mid-20s, it is like hearing nails on the chalk board with older generations wanting the North Stars back for the NHL. get over it, the Wild have been here over 10 years already… my line of thinking is similar with the Kicks, have a throwback night or get the license to sell the retro merch… but keep the Kicks out of it, leave them to their part of the history books for pro soccer in Minnesota. at least if the Stars were kept i would consider it similar to the Timbers, Sounders, etc. i think the Thunder would get a little dicey as years go buy if the MLS bump up does not happen in the next couple of years. quite frankly, i don’t think i will mind regardless of what the Vikings ownership group chooses, as long as they brand it for a few years before MLS starts… but even then, that isn’t a dealbreaker for me

  14. Strikers Return permalink
    May 11, 2012

    I’m not sure that I’ve seen it anywhere, and maybe I’m just too lazy on this Friday morning to look hard enough, heh, but when will the construction begin on this new stadium? As for MLS, it’s seems like there is really only one thing left to consider – Do the Wilf’s actually want to own an MLS team? They have the money, and now they’re going to have a stadium. It’s not the ideal stadium situation for MLS, but isn’t Courtemanche already on record as saying it’s good enough for them? It seems like the legislature worked hard to make sure the MLS provisions were included in the final version of the bill, and one would think that wouldn’t have been worth the effort if they weren’t sure the Vikings were completely serious about the endeavor. Could they have been giving a total “smoke and mirrors” act on the MLS aspect of the deal? Not suer what reason there would be for it.

    As long as the Vikings do intend to drop the cash, and the real cash, not this figure they’re quoting that Montreal paid, the only thing to stop them would be the league saying, uh, nah, we’re not interested in Minnesota as a market for our league after all. I certainly don’t see that happening, so I guess I’ll be surprised if Minnesota doesn’t have an MLS franchise now once that stadium is completed.

    The sad part of all this is what is now very likely to happen to the Stars franchise. The moment the Vikings officially declare their intention to bid for an MLS franchise, if they do not do it via the route of purchasing the Stars and building them up to an MLS franchise from D2 a la the Timbers, Sounders, White Caps, and Impact, then the Stars are done for. Let’s be honest, even if the whole MLS thing wasn’t on the brink of being a real possibility, as soon as the NASL had enough teams to meet USSF requirements, the Stars were likely to be on the chopping block anyway due to being league owned and funded. Seems unthinkable due to the longevity of pro soccer continuously being played in MN now. Unfortunately “lame duck” might well be the position the Stars find themselves in, and soon.

    As for the complaints I keep hearing from the younger generation around the internet about the nostalgia some of us “more experienced” soccer fans in America have, I say, tough spit. Maybe it’s you who needs to “get over it.” Do you know what every single professional sports franchise in the world tries to build? Brand recognition. And do you know one very solid and proven way to do that? Through history and tradition which comes from longevity and success. Do you know what fans who are proud of their history and tradition do? They buy merchandise. They attend games. They bring their family and friends to attend games. They do all the things clubs need them to do in order to survive, and thrive long term. If you’ve got an “old” brand with little value or recognition, then I agree it’s just as easy to start with something new. It all depends on the situation. Maybe the Minnesota Kicks didn’t have the type of brand recognition and connection with the local market to stay relevant and recognizable enough to bring back today. That’s fine, no issue with that. But to throw that kind of snobby attitude and label on everything, especially when you’re not familiar with the history or tradition of every other market and brand in the world, well that’s just short-sighted and close-minded in my book. No one can make an argument to may that will make even an iota of sense that the Rowdies didn’t do exactly what they needed to this year in getting the name back. Pro soccer in the Tampa market will never be able to be more successfully marketed, all other things being equal, then with the name Rowdies. It just won’t. Ask any fan there. Same goes for the Strikers in my area. Sure we have some dweebs in Miami that turn up their nose because they think Miami is all that matters in South Florida. But everyone else knows – pro soccer in South Florida equals the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. If the “Miami” Fusion had been the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, they would never have been contracted. Ok, I’m going to stop my soapboxing right there. Everyone get out to your local matches or watch parties this weekend and enjoy what we’ve got, while we’ve got it!!!

  15. jezapenguin permalink
    May 11, 2012

    if the Minnesota Kicks’ or Minnesota Strikers’ brands were strong enough, their brands would have been purchased (by whomever owns their rights) and back by now. i comprehend the idea of nostalgia with feelings towards the supporters of any sport, as well as the effect it has on the balance in a ledger… although i do find it interesting regardless of anywhere on the internet, how there seems to be a few older fans out there that respond with a tone that is slightly subtle with a condescending nature. because clearly being older leads to “more experienced”, is it possible to have a conversation and disagree?

    as i digress, i do agree that each individual situation is unique, different, and needs to be handled as such… so in regards to pro soccer, Minnesota is different from a Tampa, or a Ft Lauderdale, etc. as for sports, it can be immensely different across different sports, but in minnesota, there is always a reference to teams of yester-year until those generations fade away. happened with the lakers, will happen with the northstars, etc. with that said, as a professional in the finance & accounting field, i have taken plenty of marketing classes in my day while at university. i comprehend the idea and importance of brand recognition, but as mentioned… each situation is different. my opinion, is to use Stars or possibly Thunder, or to move on with something new and different.

    it is simply enjoyable having this conversation as a possibility in the first place :)

  16. Dave permalink
    May 11, 2012

    The Wilfs – or someone in their ownership group – is interested in MLS. Otherwise, there was a lot of effort, risking a billion dollar stadium and the instant increase in the Vikings team value, to include MLS-friendly clauses.

    Does this mean an end to the Stars? Not necessarily. First, the Vikes have a right to exclusivity, meaning another MLS team cannot play in the stadium for a few years, with the Wilf’s permission. If they succesfully obtain a MLS team, one would assume they would allow their team to play. Another MLS owner could play in the stadium, but would likely have to pay the Wilfs. Alternatively, another owner could choose to play somewhere else (TCF?, a Soccer-specific stadium to be built later?).

    Second, the NASL will look after its own interests. If an owner is found, or the league believes it helps the league overall, the Stars could continue regardless of whether their is an MLS team in town or not. The St. Paul Saints coexist with the Twins after all.

    Consensus seems to be that it makes business sense to buy the Stars before entering MLS: it would help develop the operations team that will run the enterprise as well as allow the future-MLS team to control the marketing of soccer in the metro. And the NASL is openly marketing the Stars as an MLS starter-kit (see youtube season previews on the Stars site).

    I would be surprised if discussions have not already taken place (it would be business malpractice to not perform such due diligence). Thus, the questions become, how can the Wilfs negotiate the best deal for themselves, and how could the NASL leverage its existing product into a higher sales price?

    I would expect the Wilfs to openly declare that they could begin an MLS team from scratch, may consider purchasing and relocatng a current team, may purchase the IP associated with the Kicks/Thunder, or may even appear less committed to soccer “unless them numbers work out.” If you say you want something really bad, price goes up.

    For the Stars, I would expect to tout brand loyalty, and the willingness to continue regardess of any MLS intentions. All signaling that the Wilfs should buy the Stars because its ultimately cheaper than competing with them.

    [And if I am way off base - hopefully no one will remember my post...these aren't the droids you're looking for]

  17. May 11, 2012

    @jezapenguin, I am one of those “older fans”. I think there is an understanding from an “older fan” of where we came from and how we got here today and a sense of awe and pride in that we helped that to happen. Perhaps that’s the attitude that you sometimes see.

    With all that said, I have a tendency to agree with you about names. While the Sounder, Timbers and Whitecaps all cary nostalgic names, they represent something about the area. The Kicks are responsible for me following my soccer passion for over 35 years now. However, if you really think about it, the Kicks don’t represent anything from this area and really isn’t a very good team name.

    Thunder is a sound. How do you represent Thunder and it was always an issue with logos. I never thought that was a great name either even though I followed the team for years. The 2008 logo was the only good logo the team ever had.

    Stars is very generic. I was part of the process when the NSC was deciding on the name of the team. Voyagers, which I much prefer, was a consideration. The NSC really wanted North Stars but that would have been to costly with rights.

    I would think it would be wise to start the naming process over in this particular case. As you said, each situation is unique. But before we start naming teams lets find out what the Vikings intentions actually are. I don’t disagree that this actually handicaps the NASL in trying to find an owner. And there is a real possibility that the Vikings could end up not being able to get a team from MLS or not be interested in a MLS team and then we could be stuck with a worse case scenario of no team.

    There’s a Stars game on Saturday night at the NSC. Until we know more, lets get out and support what you’ve got now rather that what you might have some day in the future.

  18. jezapenguin permalink
    May 11, 2012

    @Brian

    The not knowing what may happen to pro soccer in Minnesota, to me, is the worst part of this. There is plenty of speculation, and we all have ideas, but the vagueness of Wilf regarding this topic is the most concerning to me. With the Vikings stadium, rough ideas or estimates were given and/or leaked over months, whereas with the MLS part of it… there have been meetings between Wilf & MLS officials, and a ton of tossing “MLS” around for this stadium, but really nothing of which direction it may go, if at all.

    As a Stars sth, I plan on being there this Saturday as well… The way I see it, as a fan of the game, any pro soccer is better than none :) I am a huge fan of this website as well as Du Nord, for the pulse of soccer in Minnesota… they both feed my soccer appetite that does not get much love from the Twin Cities media (radio, paper, tv news/FSN).

  19. Bill permalink
    May 11, 2012

    I agree with Jezapenguin’s sentiment. Disagreement over naming is what I’d call a high quality problem. It’s a problem we’d all love to have. And we need to treat each other as promoters of soccer, not as more or less experienced fans of soccer. I’ve played since I could walk, but have only been able to afford to watch it regularly for the last three years. Got hooked on the Premier League then started dabbling in the MLS last summer. And I admit the first time I heard of the Stars was when I looked up the history of MN soccer when this stadium started getting traction. Everyone I know knows that much or less. I don’t think my story is unique. I think it’s the reality we’re dealing with in the Twin Cities. I’m surrounded by people who think my interest in the sport is quaint, and who don’t encourage their kids to play because of the grudge they adopted against the game. It sucks. Let’s not discourage fellow soccer fans further by telling them they don’t know enough to contribute.

  20. jezapenguin permalink
    May 11, 2012

    In regards to what Bill just said… I admit that I am not the all knowing when it comes to Minnesota pro soccer, or the history of it, and I will be the first to tell you that. I grew up playing soccer and hockey in the Chicago area… was taken as a kid to Chicago Fire games at Soldier Field, North Central College (where my dad as a firefighter in Naperville, worked games for overtime as a paramedic), and also at the newer Toyota Park in Bridgeview. When watching on tv, I could not get enough of the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, etc. But as much as I enjoy watching those leagues, I realized a while back that supporting the local scene can create something unique and diverse of its own. That is why I looked into season tickets after taking a job after university, up here in the Twin Cities. I’ve been here a while now, and plan on living here at least until I retire (if not longer). I love the sport, and am a Stars sth… I look forward to the potential of pro soccer in Minnesota, but am concerned with the lack of knowledge in which direction it may head. I do not know if my glass is half full, or half empty… but I do know that I want some more :)

  21. Strikers Return permalink
    May 11, 2012

    @jezapenguin – We can certainly discuss and agree to disagree. That’s part of the beauty of places like IMS. Sure we get some clowns like Battered Bart that come with the territory LOL, but as yankiboy would say, “it’s all good playah! LOL

    Like BQ, my passion for soccer came from the original NASL. Going with my father to Lockhart to watch the likes of Hudson, Cubillas, Best, Mueller, and JVB hooked me for life. Something else you have to factor in as well, is the monumental failures of pro soccer in this market post-Strikers. So to finally have my boyhood team back, in name and at their hallowed grounds, it means something to me and lot of other South Floridians personally. Plus, the Cosmos were obviously THE brand of the original NASL, but the Rowdies and Strikers, I would wager, are on the next tier of recognizable brands from that era. Of course the renewed popularity of the Timbers, White Caps, and Sounders eclipses them currently, but I think their relevance today in the nation’s top tier, and the only one even decently covered by the media on a nationwide basis, is the main reason for that. You have to build your foundation up from somewhere. So if connecting it to the past doesn’t overtly turn fans off, I see no reason it can’t work in the right circumstances.

    As for Minnesota, being a long time Blackhawks fan, I’m a bit partial to the North Stars name and the nostalgia it drums up when I read or hear it. LOL Seriously though, assuming there is no solid connection to the old Kicks name, I see two ways for them to go. If by some chance the Vikings do snap up the Stars and “prepare to move up to MLS” with them, then of course you’ve got to keep the Stars name. Otherwise, I guess you have to hit the old drawing board, generate some ideas, and then maybe let the fans vote. If it winds up being a Norse theme, I’d vote for the new stadium to be called Valhalla. LOL

  22. Kel permalink
    May 11, 2012

    Written by Dave – “For the Stars, I would expect to tout brand loyalty, and the willingness to continue regardess of any MLS intentions. All signaling that the Wilfs should buy the Stars because its ultimately cheaper than competing with them.”

    The Stars are basically are on life support without owners. They are finished the minute we get concrete declarations about this MLS franchise.

    No way do the Stars stay around with this MLS team coming(or not). David Downs has said the NASL is not putting clubs in MLS markets. And the Stars certainly are not competition to a MLS team. They have almost no brand recognition in the area, play in an inferior league most never heard of, and are right back to drawing 1,500 in Blaine. They cannot survive as a league owned team. The NASL will contract the club since they will have more then 8 clubs by 2014.

    The problem with the Stars even as a “starter kit” to MLS is this proposed MLS team is still “years” away. There is little incentive for anyone to prop them up for a number of years while they lose money.

    The worst case scenario is that the Stars go away and the MLS team falls through after a number of years of waiting. But I don’t think that will happen.

  23. Etch permalink
    May 11, 2012

    There are too many other teams in sports with the same name as the Thunder and the Stars.

    I say Minnesota Kicks is the way to go ASAP.

    It does not conflict with the names of other sports teams and is reconized by most Minnesotans as “THE” soccer team. There are too many other teams in sports with the same name as the Thunder and the Stars. I believe the Kicks is only name that will imediately sell tickets to non-soccer fans. The Kicks do represent Minnesota. Almost as much as the Vikings, Twins, and North Stars.

    Many non-soccer people still ask about the Kicks. If I tell them about the Thunder or the Stars they just don’t get it. They only know the Kicks.

    We should join with the Rowdies, Timbers, Earthquakes, Strikers, Sounders, and Whitecaps in keeping a tradition going. The formula seems to work.

    (Cosmos are returning )

  24. Etch permalink
    May 11, 2012

    NEW NAME IDEA

    Minnesota Thunderkicks

    PLUSES
    1) It represents tradition, power, and skill.
    2) Marketing people could go crazy with it.
    3) Thor could be called out of retirement.
    4) Dark Clouds would surely follow.
    5) Non-soccer people would identify with the Kicks part.
    6) Soccer people (young and old) would identify with both Thunder and Kicks.
    7) Easy abreviation MTK otherwise know as a TLA (three letter accronym) Ha Ha
    8) Thunderkick would be a great Craft Beer name .
    9) Media people would love to say Thunderkicks on the air.
    10) Thundersticks would sell good at Thunderkicks games. (These are the blow up plastic sticks you pound together to make noise at sporting events.

    MINUSES
    1) Have to get new uniforms.
    2) New logo.
    3) New signs.
    4) New stationary.
    5) New marketing
    6) New owner.
    7) Need more money.
    8) Not sure what else.

  25. jezapenguin permalink
    May 11, 2012

    @etch

    bahahaha, oddly enough… i love the Thunderkicks idea

    The one thing that is nice about soccer, is that the badges do not necessarily need to, or have a logo of the nickname. Just think of a few badges in the MLS (kc, toronto), or the hundreds throughout the world that lack their nickname in the badge/logo. I think, just because the United States are used to their nicknames/mascots as part of any professional sport (even the badges/logos in MLS), it does not mean it has to happen for every MLS franchise.

    The Thunderkicks, Thor stuff, is actually growing on me by the second (as I type). They could even use the Vikings colors, which would be pretty original for an MLS franchise… by either using Yellow(gold) as the primary, and Purple as a secondary color, or vice versa. Easy three options for kits: 1 mainly yellow, 1 mainly purple, 3rd kit varies any given year (black, grey, white).

  26. jezapenguin permalink
    May 11, 2012

    I can not stop thinking about this Thunderkicks idea lol… last thought on this for now, maybe have a badge that is in a shield, with an “M” within/on the shield, and a viking crown/helmet on top… kind of like a better version of a viking helmet/crown that you see on those fans for NFL sundays at the Metrodome.

  27. Bill permalink
    May 11, 2012

    Thunderkicks logo will be a rear view of a bucking Babe the Blue Ox.
    :D

  28. CasualSoccerFan permalink
    May 11, 2012

    Really silly question here…but if the Wilfs’ exclusivity begins from the first day the Vikings play a game at the stadium, what would happen if someone bought an MLS MN franchise before that day? Haven’t lawmakers set up a contradition for themselves, particularly if this law doesn’t set out any enforcement or compensation processes to go along with the exclusivity.

    I admit it’s unlikely that MLS would sell to an MN owner without getting this issue sorted out by the Wilfs…but you never know, if someone was willing to pay $75-90M, well, money talks…

  29. Matt Reinhart permalink
    May 11, 2012

    An important question that remains to be answered is whether or not the Wilfs will decide to equip the new stadium with a retractable roof. They do have the option but it comes at their expense exclusively. I don’t remember the figure quoted but I believe it to be in the fifty million dollar range. Correct me if I am wrong but wouldn’t this be an indication (maybe a small one) that they intend to have soccer played in the stadium??

  30. May 11, 2012

    Big business loves competition as it drives up prices. For now, no one else is knocking on Mr. Garber’s door so really it’s a non-starter. If someone wants to bring in an MLS team that isn’t the Wilfs and can provide a stadium suitable to MLS (they won’t be playing in the Vikings new stadium) and is willing to pay the money I’m sure MLS would listen. But in this case your talking about an organization having to go out and build a brand new SSS. Very, very unlikely.

    @Matt, the original cost for a retractable roof was quoted in the early stages as $25 mil but the one that was placed on Lucas Oil Stadium, which this stadium is expected to look like, they believe to be closer to $75 mil. Not exactly chump change.

  31. evan permalink
    May 11, 2012

    i dont follow the Vikings- what are the Minnesota folks’ opinions of Wilf? would he make a good MLS owner? is there any chance at all of him buying into the Stars early to prep them for a transition to MLS like Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Montreal?

  32. WSW permalink
    May 11, 2012

    the theme song should be from ‘Thundercats”

    Thunder….Thunder….Thunderkicks…

  33. Scott Stugelmeyer permalink
    May 12, 2012

    Got to be either Minneapolis United or Minnesota Stars. Screw the Thunder, they dominate the Youth soccer scene taking all the best players and playing in those boring uniforms. And does MLS really want a team playing in a dome on artificial turf? I highly doubt it.

  34. Terrence permalink
    May 12, 2012

    Minnesota Blue Ox

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