Professional football will return to Minnesota in 2017, after MLS commissioner Dan Garber announced the mooted United franchise will begin play next season.
While a privately-funded stadium is being planned, the Minnesota franchise – already competing in the second-tier North American Soccer League – will retain the proposed United name and logo, and will for the interim play on the University of Minnesota campus, at TCF Bank Stadium.
UM’s ground also served as the temporary home for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in 2014 and 2015, while construction continued at the nearby US Bank Stadium.
Speaking at an event in Minnesota, Garber reiterated the city’s strength as a football market.
“We are proud to officially announce that Minnesota United FC will join Major League Soccer in 2017,” Garber said on Friday.
“The ownership group’s commitment to soccer and the community, the area’s growing millennial population and the region’s rich tradition of supporting soccer at all levels are key indicators that this will be a very successful MLS market.”
While the Minnesota Kicks played in both the NASL and NASL Indoor competitions, following the collapse of the former, the Twin Cities were represented at national level even immediately before the creation of MLS, in the USL A-League.
United owner, Dr William McGuire believes the club is ready to help Minnesota make the transition from the lower tiers to MLS, having first been handed an expansion invitation in March last year.
“We have made great strides in the months since MLS expansion plans were announced, and look forward to making the jump to Major League Soccer,” he said.
“The 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.”
Along with Atlanta, Minnesota United will be the fourth new franchise to compete in the MLS, with both New York City and Orlando City taking part in 2015.
While MLS growth of late has largely been in the South-East, 2018 will see a second Los Angeles team.