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New Minnesota Stars FC Ownership Group Believed to be Led by Bill McGuire

2012 November 2

Former UnitedHealth Care CEO, Bill McGuire.

The Minnesota Stars FC, who play in the North American Soccer League, have a new owner after a 2 year search. That announcement was made this afternoon by the league office in Miami, Fla. Earlier in the week NASL commissioner David Downs had told IMS that the sale was imminent.

Sources have speculated that the ownership group taking over the team will be led by millionaire William “Bill” McGuire, M.D., known for building UnitedHealth Care to the largest health maintenance organization in the US. The league office would not confirm the speculation.

McGuire, who resides in the Twin Cities, would likely include his son-in-law Nicholas Rogers in the organization. Rogers has worked as an attorney at Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp but his name has now been removed from the firm’s webpage.

Both McGuire and Rogers showed up at Brit’s Pub on Tuesday night for the Stars’ end of the season party. Stars supporters as well as front office staff were surprised by the visit as the two engaged the crowd, talking about the team, venues and the supporters group.

McGuire and Rogers were first seen at the August 11 home match at the National Sports Center Stadium against San Antonio Scorpions and sat with Commissioner Downs. Rogers was again in attendance at the Oct. 6 first leg semifinal playoff match against the Scorpions. Both McGuire and Rogers also attended the first leg NASL Championship match in Minnesota on Oct. 20, and were seen with Downs and CEO Aaron Davidson on the field just before kickoff.

Minnesota’s first professional outdoor soccer team was the Minnesota Kicks who ran from 1976-81. The second outdoor pro team was the Minnesota Thunder . The Thunder was founded in 1990 and ran through the 2009 season. The follow up team, the Minnesota Stars, have had been in existence since the 2010 season in several incarnations. With the sale of the Stars it will mean that professional soccer in Minnesota will live to see its 24th consecutive year. If it is true that McGuire will lead the group, it will be the first significant owner of a pro soccer in team in Minnesota since then Medtronic CEO Bill George owned the Thunder in the late 90s.

The National Sports Center fielded a team in 2010 to replace the Thunder and preserve professional soccer in Minnesota as well as keeping a tenant in their own stadium in Blaine, Minn. The NSC Minnesota Stars had a small marketing budget and an identity crisis after the Thunder faded away at the end of 2009. Attendance dwindled. The NSC was not able to continue as owners with new demanding requirements from US Soccer for Division 2 professional leagues set in August of 2010, which required at least one owner to have a net worth of $20 million.

The Stars were then picked up by the NASL as a league-owned team. The NASL needed 8 teams to be sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation to be their new division 2 league. The Stars had been in a state of limbo ever since and a search for a new owner has been ongoing. Soccer fans in Minnesota were particularly concerned since mid-July. That’s when the New York Cosmos were announced as the newest team to join the NASL for 2013. The fate of the Stars for one more year seemed to be in the hands of the league’s board of governors. Many feared it may be the team’s last year with the Cosmos allowing the NASL to have the 8 teams required.

Today’s announcement by the league states that the venue and season ticket prices are expected to be released by the club in the next 2-3 weeks.  The team intends to hold a press conference next week in Minneapolis to announce more details about the ownership group and the team’s future plans.

75 Responses
  1. Demolition Man permalink
    November 2, 2012

    So… our Stars ownership group is also the jersey sponser of my Revs. Can we now get a friendly game between the Stars vs Revs here at the Nessy next year?

  2. Mac permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Great news. Congratulations from the Chicago Fire nation.

  3. November 2, 2012

    This is great news guys!

  4. Chrös permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Are we going to regret the day we gave the Wilf family exclusive rights to an MLS franchise here?

  5. Chrös permalink
    November 2, 2012

    *Temporary exclusive rights

  6. gordieloewen permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Nothing super interesting here, just FYI:

    Nicholas Rogers Bio from a cache of his page at gaskinsbennett.com

    “Nicholas Rogers is civil litigation attorney who helps individual and institutional clients resolve disputes with their partners, customers and regulators.

    Prior to joining Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP in 2010, Nick practiced with a large, international law firm in Washington, DC where he developed a special interest in the fraud and abuse aspects of health care law. He has advised financial and medical companies on Stark, Anti-Kickback, HIPAA and False Claims Act issues in connection with various transactions. He was also part of a team that helped a physician-owned company successfully resolve an HHS-OIG investigation into alleged Stark and Anti-Kickback violations.

    Nick served as an editor for the Minnesota Journal of International Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He was also a research assistant for Professor Joan Howland and an extern for the Honorable John R. Tunheim.

    Nick currently practices in the areas of commercial litigation and civil rights.”

  7. November 2, 2012

    Also, no one seems to understand the rights the Wilfs actually have with regards to MLS. It’s not with the league for a franchise. It’s for that franchise to play at the new stadium, which does not currently exist.

  8. Josh permalink
    November 2, 2012

    “Are we going to regret the day we gave the Wilf family exclusive rights to an MLS franchise here?”

    Honest quesetion: didn’t we just give them the rights to bring an MLS team to THAT stadium? MLS doesn’t want their teams in NFL stadiums; they want intimate venues made for soccer.

    And all that is assuming that MLS would even want to come to Minnesota. If the Wilfs cavalierly think they could just buy a team, the truth is far more nuanced.

  9. John permalink
    November 2, 2012

    thank you josh
    owners that just placed MLS teams without grassroot organization have suffered like new england rev

    lets hope mcquire put good investment is supporting infrastructure like upgrade to their training coaches
    keep manny lagos

    and market heavily next year because stars can easily max out the NSC

  10. cdhsoccer permalink
    November 2, 2012

    @ john and josh

    MLS grants territorial rights like the other major leagues so based on media market so when the Vikings retained exclusive rights to a franchise, that means ANYWHERE within the twin cities media market / metropolitan area, regardless of the stadium.

    That being said I think too much is being made of the fact the Wilfs have such rights. When you look at Vancouver and Seattle, who are obviously great models for what we want here in Minnesota, both of those teams were owned by a majority owners (Greg Kerfoot and Adrian Hanauer, respectively) who ended up up becoming something of minority owners when the club jumped to MLS. While Kerfoot technically is still the majority shareholder, he brought in other major investors to help share the start-up costs.

    My point is there is nothing from stopping the new Stars ownership group from eventually pairing-up with the Vikes for an MLS team in the future that is majority owned by the Wilfs. It would be in both group’s best interest in creating a sustainable and popular product should the opportunity ever arise. Lets hope it does!!

  11. Virgil Petrella permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Like many of the MLS teams with “old NASL” roots…. The Stars should change their name and logo to the old Minnesota Kicks.

  12. Josh permalink
    November 2, 2012

    The Wilfs do not have a deal with the MLS, to my knowledge. Their only deal is with the State of Minnesota. That deal allows them exclusive use of the new stadium (rent-free, if I recall) for an MLS team.

    In the meantime, if someone else wants to bring an MLS team to Minnesota, they are free to do so. They could play in a different venue or in the Vikes’ stadium, if they could agree to a rental fee.

    Am I wrong on this?

    Anyway, I really feel the MLS talk is wildly premature. We’ve only now just barely had professional soccer saved in Minnesota. Let’s be grateful for that.

  13. November 2, 2012

    CDH, that is completely inaccurate.

    I have talked to folks with MLS and they do not give territorial rights. And Josh is correct. The deal is only with the State of Minnesota and for the new stadium. I’ve said it here lots of time before but will say it again. The Vikings basically have right of first refusal to bring in an MLS team into the new stadium for five years starting from the date that the Vikings first step on the field of the new venue to play a game.

    http://www.insidemnsoccer.com/2012/10/09/talking-soccer-mls-and-stadium-construction-with-minnesota-vikings-lester-bagley/

  14. uhclem permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Another of my minor niggling corrections. The second outdoor professional soccer team in Minnesota was the Minnesota Strikers, who played in the last season (1984) of the old NASL after leaving from Ft. Lauderdale.

  15. cdhsoccer permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Thanks for the correction on the rights issue bq, my bad!

  16. November 2, 2012

    I agree a new nickname should be sought after, something relative to the culture of Minnesota-

    maybe a popular fish name, PIKES or PERCHES or go back to the KICKS.

  17. gordieloewen permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there’s plenty of history, just from the last few seasons in the Stars name. I also feel like it is plenty representative of the culture what with the state motto L’Etoile du Nord (star of the north). Just me though.

  18. Matt permalink
    November 2, 2012

    I like the Stars name, but I’d like Northstars better…

  19. doug permalink
    November 2, 2012

    I’d say “No New Identity Please!”… but a new venue would be great. I love being near Blaine… but if we want to have the attendance and fan-base that any ownership group would covet… we need a venue “closer” to downtown.

    /Vote Yes – for USSF to designate top 3 tiers of US Soccer as open divisions… (this removes the MLS monopoly and institutes Promotion/Relegation)

    Once USSF or FIFA makes this decision… the MLS/NASL/USL-Pro will have to comply… or fade away.

  20. jspech permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Everytime, I read P/R post, I feel like someone is sticking needles in my eyes.

    Doug you & the crazies who call for P/R explain to me. Why any american business person would invest (gamble) Millions of Dollars, just to have it devalued, then spent more just to get value back- up. It will never happened.

    When did we turn our business model to Socialism?

    Please enuff w/ P/R

  21. Bobb permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Excellent news!

    I have a feeling Minneapolis could be up there with Portland and KC if they can get the Stars into MLS with a nice downtown stadium.

    And I love the new logo, please don’t ever change that!

  22. jspech permalink
    November 2, 2012

    we already have P/R in the Country, it’s clled a “Hard Salary Cap”. The NBA has P/R, See why I am no longer a NY Knicks fan & now BK Nets fan. The Knicks has been regulated since they traded Pat Ewing, (Scott, Layden, Isiah Thomas).

    MLB has a new hard cap ( But small markets teams, where in a 2nd Div.)

    So you envision FIFA telling single entity MLS that for the forseerable future part of their assest will be devalued & we are bringing a group of teams (owners), who had nothing to do with your original investment will benefit from your investment.

    Talk about spreading the wealth.

    The mount of $$ that lower leagues would have to give MLS, then invest in their team & still return healthy revenues.

    Just don’t see the logic.

    What ever you are smoking please express pass that to Brooklyn, NY, cause Sandy messed up the supply chain.

  23. stpauljosh permalink
    November 2, 2012

    I was excited about this until I found out the owner will be William McGuire. Pretty much everyone in my profession (medical) is disgusted by him. He’s even been discussed at an ethics conference as an example what not to do in health care administration.

    I hope he’s using the millions he made before his time at UHC to buy the Stars. Otherwise, that’s pretty dirty money.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701467.html
    (sorry BQ, I’m not sure if you allow links or not)

  24. Stanley permalink
    November 2, 2012

    DIGGITY!!!

  25. Mike permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Pretty excited! Keep the name and the crest – no need to change them. I wonder what they are thinking for a stadium site? Are they going to stick to the NSC or try somewhere else?

  26. November 2, 2012

    @stpauljosh

    I am not particularly excited about McGuire either, but I have long since dispensed with the notion that the team was going to be owned by someone that I would want to spend time with. The Massimo Moratti philanthropist type of owner is exceedingly rare.

  27. danwolf permalink
    November 2, 2012

    Hey Jspech

    P&R. MUHAHAHAHAHAHA (Evil laugh).

  28. danwolf permalink
    November 2, 2012

    BQ,
    Glad to see the Stars future is shinning brighter now. I am interested to see what happens next year with a Stars team that has a real owner and not league owned.

  29. Bart permalink
    November 2, 2012

    @stpauljosh

    I am sorry, but a story from 2006 about stock option rewards to executives does in no way reflect the integrity or morality of McGuire.

    If he did his homework, he knows that he will lose about $3,000,000 in the next 2-3 years with no hope of recovery. A philanthropic endeavor, but not one that has ill or illicit intent.

    You Minnesota folks should be grateful that he stepped up to the bar and paid the tab, meaning he assumed the liabilities of the Stars. He certainly did not pay an entry fee for the privilege.

    This is admittedly great news for Traffic/NASL/Davidson, but let’s not assume this is anything more than an escape from the deadly bullet loaded in that US Soccer gun.

  30. November 2, 2012

    @Bart

    This isn’t really the time to get into it, but there is a lot more to it than a story from 2006 about stock options. Regardless, we do not always have to love the guy that is paying the bills. I definitely learned that mucking about in the art world.

  31. Kdog permalink
    November 2, 2012

    I’m with stpauljosh. Its good that the Stars will be around for a while but lets not pretend that any of these millionaire or billionaire exploiters are with us. They ain’t.

  32. Strikers Return permalink
    November 3, 2012

    Congratulations to BQ and all Minnesota pro soccer fans. Very, very glad to know you will be able to continue your long-standing tradition of supporting your local team. Looking forward to hearing what kind of things the new ownership has planned for the Stars going forward.

    Leave it to Bart to try and hijack every one of these Stars threads feebly attempting to be a wet blanket. How many times are we going to have to hear that “yeah, but I bet they didn’t have to pay any league fees” line Bart? So what? You’re confusing yourself here. Your pals Big Papa, Marcos, and Holt are the ones with the tunnel vision locked on team fees. Unlike the USL, the NASL understands that teams need stable, committed ownership for its teams, not just any schlepper that can write a big enough check at the beginning. The circumstances under which the Stars got that committed ownership aren’t at all important. The fact that they got it is. Not only that, but it immediately makes life easier for every other team in the league as well. The money each one was having to toss into the pot for the operation of the Stars can now be invested in their own clubs. So quit desperately trying to find any tiny thing you can nitpick at and just sit back and enjoy the offseason beatings by your wife. LOL

  33. Soccer Boy permalink
    November 3, 2012

    Who cares about where the Stars play or what their name is/is going to be. The soccer tradition in MN has been given another “second chance.” Time for the fans to step up and show their support and not just pay lip service on Internet blogs and boards.

  34. Bart permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @Strikers Return

    Why the USL discussion, it has no place on this blog. The comment about how the new owners received the team is legitimate. At least I defended their honor after they were attacked earlier on this site.

    At the end of the day, this is all about the money trail. For any league and for any sport. It always will be.

  35. Footy76 permalink
    November 3, 2012

    What’s going to happen to them Metrodome? Correct me if I wrong but I read it’s not going to be demolished right away and if that is correct why not refurbish it and play there. Portland did it with an AAA baseball stadium and they had less to work with when it came to space. The star would really be on MLS radar if they you do that. It sound like the Stars new owner could make that happen.

  36. November 3, 2012

    Metrodome will be up for one more year as the build the new stadium right next to it. Then it will be demolished for the building of the rest of the new Vikings stadium. So the stadium has one more season and I would expect to see some of the teams games played there next year.

    As to your argument, not sure how a D2 team refurbishes a $300 million dollar stadium that is 30 years old and would need millions and millions of dollars of rehab on property that doesn’t belong to them for a Division 2 pro soccer team. That just doesn’t make sense even if the dome wasn’t getting torn down.

  37. BrazilYinzer permalink
    November 3, 2012

    Great news. I took my kids to the last home game, and didn’t have the heart to tell them I thought it was going to be the last home game forever. Now I can take them to games next year (and if the games are downtown again, I can take them to even more).

  38. stpauljosh permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @Bart

    So an article about the businessman’s practice of business in the last ten year, who is buying this business called the MN Stars has no relevance?

    “You Minnesota folks should be grateful that he stepped up to the bar and paid the tab…” Thanks for setting us Minnesotans straight. All this time I’ve been more concerned about the barriers actively erected by UHC under McGuire to prevent patients from getting care they need. Now that he’s buying the Stars, because Soccer matters more than human life, we should embrace him with open arms.

    I realize that most owners aren’t going to be saints. But seriously, these aren’t just some shady real estate deals. People died being denied care due to the convoluted processes utilized under McGuire.

    To me, the stock options bit was salt on the wound. I will not give any money to this man. He owes people in this state more than a soccer team.

  39. Tom permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @stpauljosh,
    Since as you state you will not be giving any money to this man, does that mean “goodbye”?

  40. Footy76 permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @BQ

    Ok I just read Metrodome on wiki and I understand now the owner of the Metrodome is a different entity all together and not own by the city like most stadiums. Here another question hopefully you can answer. How much does it cost to build a stadium and is this guy rich enough to do it?

  41. stpauljosh permalink
    November 3, 2012

    Tom- that’s a good question.

    Honestly, I’m very conflicted. This past season I had purchased season tix for the first time and was able to get to 75% of the matches, bringing some newbies along the way. Until this year I would’ve called myself a marginal fan of the Stars- owing “marginal” status to my DC United devotion, concerns about investing energy into a team that might not exist “next year” (the DC/Baltimore/Stadium talk over the past years has been disheartening enough), and other weak rationale.

    So, I’ve jumped on the Stars train the last year and a half and have loved it. This team and their supporters have earned an owner. As difficult of a process finding an buyer has been, I imagine even less interest in the team if they were at the bottom of the standings with 200 fans/match.

    If “Minnesota” and our state motto are on our shield which is reflective of our state flag, my hope would be that any ownership group would reflect the values of Minnesotans. McGuire doesn’t in the least. In fact, he’s been pretty cynical in dealings with Minnesotans/customers.

    So to answer your question… I may just have to be content going to Macalester College matches.

    Side question for anyone: Do the rights to Minnesota’s team stay in Minnesota if, say in 20 years, an owner decides to move the organization to another city?

  42. Steve permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @StPaulJosh

    If you’re gonna give up supporting your local team because there owned by a controversial figure, then don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Ethical quandary or not, we have a team thanks to him.

    The fact that you were on the fence about liking the team in the first place because their future was questionable is indicative enough of the kind of fan you were ever gonna be.

  43. Bart permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @stpauljosh

    McGuire is a billionaire….with a “B” He clearly fits the description for even an MLS owner, and the losses he will incur with the Stars could be described as chump change, for what probably will be a hobby of his.

    All insurance companies are under strict regulations and it will only get more onerous in 2014, when ObamaCare truly kicks in.

    He has not been indicted, or charged with any criminal indictment of any kind, as far as I can tell.

    Every insurance firm denies coverage, and frankly it sucks when they do. But this is a actuarial statistics game. What is the size of the premium paying universe against the universe of claims. UH seems to be a profitable firm, one whose stocks are traded publicly.

    I would again state that the Stars fans are blessed. Not only did Downs find a buyer, he found one that can indeed do so and lose money for perpetuity. There ain’t that many folks in the universe of that threshold that are willing to invest in minor league soccer.

    Gold was found in that needle of a haystack….

  44. WSW permalink
    November 3, 2012

    It’s not minor league it’s D2. If their is no MLS team in that market’s it’s a major pro team.

    We don’t have pro/rel so the “major” “minor” is irrelevant.

  45. Tom permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @stpauljosh,
    I understand your dilemna and in this case I would have to look to the great philosopher Mr. Jimmy from Excelsior, MN (for those not from around here – yes he did exist). “You can’t always get what you want, but if try sometimes well you might find, you get what you need”.

  46. Bart permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @WSW

    Come on, not even you can make that statement stick or believe it. Anything below D1 is minor league soccer. Anything below Major League Baseball is minor league baseball. Whether a market has MLS or MLB is irrelevant, if it is not MLS or MLB, it is minor league stuff. Even minor league stuff is professional, it is just, well, minor.

    Pro/rel has nothing to do with it.

    Bottom line, it appears that Minnesota has found an owner that can meet the time stress tests, and that is great for the fans of the Stars.

  47. stpauljosh permalink
    November 3, 2012

    “Gold was found in that needle of a haystack….”

    “You can’t always get what you want, but if try sometimes well you might find, you get what you need”.

    Brilliant. Seriously.

    I have some things to think about.

    @Bart He was never charged, correct. That’s probably because he settled with the SEC and had to give back over $600 million to avoid charges. He did keep $800 million in stock options. I’m sure some of that has been converted to his B-B-Billions by now.

  48. Bart permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @stpauljosh

    Seriously, what you are saying is not only slanderous, it falls in the face of logic. McGuire “probably settled with the SEC? Seriously? If it was the SEC it was about stock options, an item that had nothing to do with patient care, which seems to be your main complaint.

    The man has moolah. He has made a decision to spend that money (waste it or invest it, your call) for the opportunity to have a minor league professional soccer team in Minnesota. It may be ego, it may be he had a need to find a job for a relative, or he may actually like the game of soccer, but for whatever the reason is, the Stars fans have another season (and most likely more, if NASL continues) to enjoy their passion. In other words, McGuire did some real good to the locals. Hot dogs will be sold, beer will be consumed and fans will continue to be high on the Stars play (the discusson about the new season format is another discussion).

    Sounds like you have some bitter grapes to consider, but it would also be outside of this world of soccer. Combining the two is not healthy, nor appropriate.

  49. WSW permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @bart

    It’s lower league, D2

    minor league is when your affiliated with major league:

    like AAA to MLB

    AHL to NHL

    NASL has no affiliation with MLS.

  50. Bart permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @WSW

    D2 (and D3) is lower level professional soccer. It ain’t the top division, by definition that it is number “2″. Affiliation has nothing to do with it.

    Not only does NASL have no affiliation to MLS, it is not a D1 league. If NASL applied to USSF and was granted D1 league status, then it would be major league soccer. You don’t need the name, MLS, to be major league. NASL was D1 at one point in this country, as you well know.

    Now it is not. Nothing to be ashamed about, just noted as reality.

  51. WSW permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @Bart

    So is EPL major league and championship minor league?

    I don’t think so, nobody calls any D2 league in the world “minor” league.

  52. The Chosen One permalink
    November 3, 2012

    I could careless who owns the team as long as we have an owner. stpauljosh see you later because if that the type of “values” you have as a fan we don’t need your kind around here.

  53. Bart permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @WSW

    Actually, everyone in the world knows that D2 is not D1, or the first division.

    I am not sure why you are pushing this point, it is meaningless, but the fact remains that D2 is still minor league professional soccer. There is no disgrace in this.

  54. WSW permalink
    November 3, 2012

    @Bart

    I understand but “minor” is too broad.

    So what is USL? if NASL is “minor” league according to you.

    To me it’s like this:

    MLS = D1
    NASL= D2
    USL = D3
    NPSL = D4
    PDL = D5

  55. Edward permalink
    November 4, 2012

    Anything below the top league in this country is considered minor league, regardless of whether or not they’re affiliated with the top league. If it’s not MLB/NBA/NHL/NFL/MLS, it’s considered to be minor league. Major league/minor league is a concept fairly unique to US/Canada, so drawing comparisons to D1/D2 in other countries is useless.

    @The Chosen One, I think you mean “I couldn’t care less.” Unless you intended to suggest you still had some small ability to care left in reserve.

  56. Edward permalink
    November 4, 2012

    @WSW, USSF doesn’t sanction any league below the D3 level, but both PDL and NPSL are generally considered to be on-par as de facto D4 leagues. Of course, this is irrellevent as far as major vs. minor league goes. Anything below MLS is considered minor league. Listen, I get it. I know what it’s like to be a fan of a D2 team in a “major league” market. It’s hard to sell minor league in a major league market. “Minor league” is a broad term that covers other lower, less professional leagues too, so it’s understandable why you’d want to distinguish yourself from them. But the fact there’s distinguishing differences between NASL, USL, and PDL/NPASL doesn’t mean that they’re all minor league, just as the differences between AAA, AA, A, or independent league baseball doesn’t mean that they’re not all minor league.

  57. Bart permalink
    November 4, 2012

    @WSW

    Sorry, but I respectfully disagree, as would most English professors at any university. “Minor” as defined in professional sports terms is anything below the big dogs.

    PDL and NPSL are considered, at best, ProAm and don’t have a D4 or D5 distinction. Further, there are folks that would argue that PDL is better than NPSL, but that is a discussion for a different forum.

    I don’t mind beating a dead horse, but this one is starting to have flesh wounds from the rot.

  58. November 4, 2012

    For the record, I totally agree in this case, with both Bart and Edward. No need to rehash what they have already said and said well.

  59. November 4, 2012

    1. I think that people have to be realistic about Blaine. Yes, it’s effin’ Blaine. But right now, it’s pretty near the best possible existing stadium for summer soccer available in the metro and you shouldn’t discount the fact that Blaine is the epicenter of local youth summer soccer. Tournament tie-ins drive attendance and concession traffic, as well as visibility from a number of sponsors.

    2. You also have to be realistic about building yet another purpose-built stadium in a central city location right now. The number of sites without environmental factors isn’t huge, and it’s a D2 team. Minneapolis is already paying to renovate Target Center and build a new Vikings stadium at the Metrodome site — and the other downtown site that was bandied about for the Vikings has some SuperFund issues and ownership concerns. Hennepin County is still on the hook for Target Field. St. Paul is building a Lowertown Saints stadium and has ongoing bonding issues around the X and RiverCentre. Ramsey County is mostly interested in dealing with the biggest SuperFund site of all, and Shoreview’s not a big improvement in centrality versus Blaine.

    3. People who think ongoing games at the Dome (while it exists) would improve attendance may never have been to a Dome event in July. The baggie, people. Summer sports should not be played in a baggie. Even good Twins teams had issues with drawing on nice days in the summer in the Dome. Sure, it’s central. But it’s a crap venue for pretty much anything save monster truck rallies.

  60. stpauljosh permalink
    November 4, 2012

    @the chonsen one: I appreciate the your addition to the discussion.

    @ Bart: How is what I’ve said slanderous? http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/07/business/07options.html?ref=williamwmcguire google, bro. google.

    I haven’t said anything that isn’t true. McGuire’s been on my/colleagues radar since before 2005. Please, let me know when you first began do discuss the man’s business practices? or even heard of him? Two day ago? I’d love for you to enlighten me about him as you show me the door.

    Seriously, I’m surprised at how little what McGuire’s done in the last 10 years matters. As long as we get our soccer team we don’t care how we get it? I get that it’s not necessarily a “boycottable” issue-that he “paid” his dues, but, yeah, I’m surprised at how po’d some are at me for painting a fuller picture than painted about his days at UHC. However, I’m certain you’d be singing a different tune if you’d had patients or family members lives affected by the company he was in charge of as he ran off with millions that he eventually was forced to pay back.

    I guess we should stay positive about MCGuire, kiss the soccer ring on his finger and ignore how previous customers of his company have been treated. Stars supporters are his new patrons. You get that part, right?

    And for the record, I did state “I had some things to think about” in regards to the golden needle in the haystack. Nothing’s ideal, I get it. It’s just difficult to stomach supporting Bill McGuire’s pocketbook.

  61. Tom permalink
    November 4, 2012

    @Julie Kosbab,
    Great points. IMO, many people also confuse distance with time when discussing Blaine. For most parts of the twin cities (except for suburbs south of the metro areas) if you timed how long it took from turning the key in the ignition to planting your butt in your seat would it really be that much of a difference between Blaine and a downtown Minneapolis site? I know from attending plenty of Twins and TWolve games that there isn’t much difference (and I save $10 in parking….). The drive to Blaine is obviously farther, but parking is a snap, the walk to the gate is short, and you’re in your seat in a minute. Does this hold true for everyone – obviously not, but it does for most. The big drawback to Blaine (or the attraction for a downtown site) is public transportation. The “hot” demographic for professional soccer is the twenty-something+ male and that group is a big user and proponent of light rail and the bus system.

  62. Steve permalink
    November 4, 2012

    Saint Paul Josh

    What precisely is your end game scenario? What do you want the fans of soccer in this state to do? Hold a rebellion? Boycott the team? Kill the only chance we have?

    Are you just venting? Do we all need to give you a moment to get this energy out?

    Cause if you want me to do anything other than listen half hearted to your weak whines about ethical quandaries from situations long past, in industries far apart from the current cause of discussion, you’re gonna be disappointed.

  63. ButlerBob permalink
    November 4, 2012

    BQ,

    Another great article. Thanks for this labor of love you do with the site and the podcast. Your site is part of my daily reading routine.

    Rob

  64. Bart permalink
    November 4, 2012

    @stpauljosh

    Here you go again, citing a 2007 article on stock options. You might want to note that the article also stated that since his departure, UH was not performing as well. The article does not discuss any actions related to denial of legitimate insurance claims, which seems to be your main gripe.

    Ok, I will admit that he and his inner circle of friends were more than a little aggressive in being awarded stock options. This was 5 years ago, however. He has not been with the company in a half a decade.

    Also, let it be noted that UH was one of the first public firms targeted by the SEC since the famed Enron debacle. This was the posterchild used by the SEC to create a deterrent. The punishment may very well have not fitted the accounting charges. In any event it has been behind McGuire for a half a decade and he has not been part of UH.

    I could be very sarcastic at this point and make the statement that McGuire may just fit in very well with the rest of the legitimate team owners, or even better, shares the same philosophies as Traffic Brazil, but you know, even that would be low for me, given that I don’t know the guy.

    What I do know is that McGuire is surely saving the Stars from what was an imminent demise. The local soccer yokels are glad, as is the rest of the NASL fan followers.

    It has been said that the price of freedom does not come without the loss of blood from time to time in fighting for that freedom. It may be inferred that the longevity of NASL comes with the same.

  65. Fotbalist permalink
    November 4, 2012

    @ stpauljosh & others who are interested
    This 2007 article from the NYTimes states that more than 120 companies had been investigated by the SEC. Many hundreds others have experienced this since 2007, and this process takes years in most cases. The reality is that the last decade has been much more dramatic for the financial world than we imagine. There are many, many people like McGuire who were forced to pay back money (granted not all as many as McGuire). The other reality is that sometimes there are gray areas in regulations and people will always take advantage of gray areas for their own benefit.

    Lastly, many sports teams throughout the world are owned by somewhat questionable owners. At the end of the day, we can probably find fault with any owner that might make us question our decision to support the business offered by the respective owner. Thus, we just need to support the “good” that people do and reject the “bad” that the same people do.

    I’m really happy MN Stars FC has an owner and will continue to operate, potentially with long term future. Go Stars!

  66. Darren L. permalink
    November 4, 2012

    This is great news! I’m impressed with the apparent quality of the ownership.
    Looking forward to the press conference and the additional details.

    Now I can stop buying lottery tickets.

  67. November 4, 2012

    @Steve, Your shot at Josh has been removed and you’ve been issued a yellow card. Rules here at IMS is everyone has a right to speak their mind as long as it’s done respectfully and on topic. Immature name calling is not allowed. It’s one of the things that has kept the discussion at IMS going well over the years. People shouldn’t have to be afraid of expressing their opinion because someone is going to rip them. Josh has his concerns. That’s fair enough. If you want to rebut with an intelligent argument please feel free to do so.

  68. David permalink
    November 4, 2012

    This is great news! Unfortunately, I will be moving in the summer to Rapids country, but I wish MN all the best.
    As to the location, it NEEDS to be moved. I come from Brooklyn Park, so for me it’s not so bad, but I have a friend who used to live in Richfield, that to Blaine took him between 35-40 minutes, and now that he’s moved to Shakopee, he barely considers it. The fact is, there are still 7 or 8 first and second tier suburbs beyond Richfield or even to the southwest, that are near or over an hour, and that’s not counting the Eastern ‘burbs. To be competitive, they need to find a new location. I understand the convenience and price of the NSC, but it’s terrible for building a fan base which attends regularly.
    In any case, excellent news, and I hope someday I can watch MN play the Rapids in Denver!

  69. Stephen permalink
    November 4, 2012

    Does anyone know how many people live within a 1/2 hour commute of NSC?

  70. November 4, 2012

    I have such trouble talking about how Blaine is “so far away”. It really isn’t. I attend every home game and I can get to Blaine from Burnsville in around a 1/2 hour on weekends. Weekday games are a different story.

  71. Edward permalink
    November 5, 2012

    @stpauljosh
    Here’s some food for thought: Since soccer team ownership, particularly D2 soccer team ownership, is a money-losing proposition anyway, by attending Stars games you wouldn’t so much be “supporting McGuire’s pocketbook” as convincing him to keep his money-losing soccer hobby going.

  72. Etch permalink
    November 5, 2012

    TO CL,
    Here are some populations,Most of these areas are less than 1/2 hr away.
    I didn’t include all cities within 1/2 hr

    Brooklyn Park =75,000, Brooklyn Center =30,104, Maple Grove 61,500, Coon Rapids= 61,476, Blaine=57,186, Anoka=17,000, Andover=30,598, Fridley=27,208, Ham Lake=15,296, Columbia Heights=19,496, Shoreview=25,045,Maplewood=38,000,New Brighton=21,456, Mounds View=12,155, Arden Hills= 9,552, Little Canada= 9,773,
    Roseville= 33,660,Vadnais Heights=12,302, White Bear Lake=23,797, White Bear Township= 10,949

    Other facts: All of Anoka County and all of Ramsey County is within 1/2 hr
    Anoka County= 330,844 and Ramsey County= 508,640
    A good portion of Hennepin County is also within 1/2 hr.
    NE Minneapolis (Nordeast) = 30,379; N Minneapolis (Northside) = 20, 347

    When I get a chance I will look up the Average Daily Traffic in and out of Blaine. I’m guessing if only a small percentage of the drivers went to a game the stadium would be full.

  73. Fotbalist permalink
    November 5, 2012

    @ Etch – thanks. very useful. That tells me that with long term sustained effective marketing and the type of player/fan relationship we’ve seen of late, MN Stars FC should be able to move into the 7 or 8 thousand fans per game area.

  74. Julie permalink
    November 6, 2012

    Weeknight games are tough all over. Look a Twins stands on weeknight games. Look at the MLS playoff stands for these midweek playoff games. I am confident there is a dip for every NASL team for a weeknight that isn’t associated with a holiday. Location is a small piece of that puzzle.

  75. Stephen permalink
    November 7, 2012

    Wow, I didn’t realise that so many people lived that close to the NSC. You know that rivals the numbers Al Lang has near it, right?

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