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