Taxpayers may be asked to build soccer stadium

In December, Bill McGuire, the former United Health boss, who is in the group that’s competing with the Wilf family for a Major League Soccer franchise in Minneapolis, wouldn’t say whether he’d seek taxpayer help for a soccer stadium.

“And depending, who knows? We haven’t asked [yet for public money]. I mean, there’s no formal ‘ask’ out there,” he said when asked by the Star Tribune.

As I wrote at the time, the lack of a “no” probably means “yes”.

The Star Tribune reports today that McGuire met with Senate boss Tom Bakk in February, looking for $150 million who told McGuire there’s no stomach for a taxpayer assist. The Strib said McGuire is “taking the temperature” of public officials on their involvement with the $150 million stadium.

The meeting happened after Bakk called the MLS commissioner to point out that the taxpayers have already ponied up for a new soccer stadium — the one in which the Minnesota Vikings will play football. When it was being sold to “the people”, officials noted it could also be used for an MLS franchise being sought by McGuire’s competitor.

The meeting with the highest-ranking DFLer in the Legislature came amid new signs that McGuire, who already owns the lower-level Minnesota United FC team, is emboldened as he privately takes the temperature of a range of public officials to help finance the project. Only last week Minnesota Twins president David St. Peter, representing the project, discussed a soccer stadium with Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson, who has already voiced concerns about building another stadium in the city.

In an interview Thursday, Bakk said he told Garber that he did not want a repeat of what MLS is facing in Miami, where the league wants to locate a team but does not have support from public officials to build a stadium. “They still haven’t been able to figure out how to get the stadium built, and I don’t want to put the league in that situation again in Minnesota,” Bakk said.

McGuire has kept his stadium maneuvering out of the public eye, and had little comment when reached Wednesday. “I don’t have anything to say about that,” he said. “I’m working on other things.”

Bakk also suggested McGuire and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor — the 782nd-richest person on the planet (for whom taxpayers are spending $50 million for the Target Center renovation) — have the means to build their own stadium.

But stadium proposals have a hard time dying.

The Star Tribune says McGuire’s attempt to get public help for another stadium may be gaining traction, and the MLS may be delaying awarding the city a franchise until it finds out how it works out.

The MLS reportedly would rather have a soccer-only, outdoor stadium.

For sure, this is all speculation. But that’s invited when the ownership group doesn’t rule out public subsidies in some form for another stadium in the city.

Related: Soccer stadium subsidy? United owner says public money might be needed (Star Tribune).

Game Changer – United isn’t saying, but they’re saying MLS (MLS4MN).

Investors eye site near Mpls. Farmers Market for MLS soccer stadium (Minnesota Public Radio News).