Frequently Asked Questions (or Frequently Heard Guffaws):

What’s the difference between the NASL and MLS:

Both are professional leagues.  MLS is a Division 1 league, NASL is a Division 2 league.  We are all familiar with MLS.  But the NASL isn’t a fly by night operation.  The New York Cosmos chose the NASL as their league of choice.  They currently have plans for developing a 25,000 seat stadium that would cost $200-$240 million. The plan also includes a 60,000-square foot area that would feature nine restaurants, some 250,000-square feet of retail space, a 175-room hotel, a community center, a 4.3 acre public park, soccer fields for the community and an overpass over the Cross Island Parkway that would connect the hotel and restaurants to the stadium.  Nothing about it is minor league.

The new NASL has plenty of success stories in its short history. The New York Cosmos are an internationally known brand. San Antonio built Toyota Field which is their own soccer specific stadium.  Indianapolis and Ottawa are the latest cities to join the league. This brings up the number of teams in NASL to 10 for the 2014 season.

Can you explain the whole MLS exclusivity clause with the new Vikings Stadium?

First let’s look at the language of the bill:

The authority shall, for five years after the first NFL team home game is played in the stadium, grant the NFL team the exclusive right to
establish major league soccer at the stadium. The authority and the NFL team may enter  into an agreement providing the terms and conditions of such an arrangement, provided: (1) if any of the NFL team owners whose family owns at least three percent of  the NFL team purchases full or partial ownership in a major league soccer franchise,  such franchise may play in the stadium under a use agreement with similar terms as are
applicable to the NFL team which shall include rent based on market conditions but not  less than a provision of payment of game-day costs and reasonable marginal costs incurred  by the authority as a result of the major league soccer team; and (2) capital improvements required by a major league soccer franchise must be  financed by the owners of the major league soccer team, unless otherwise agreed to by the authority.

The key part here is that anyone with 3% stake in the Vikings has the right to try to bring an MLS team to the new stadium for the five years after the first NFL game. Essentially, then, they have until 2021. That’s a long time. Also note that this is only for the new Vikings stadium. If someone else wanted to build a new stadium and put an MLS team in there (or even play in a different stadium until 2021), this bill does not apply.

Nick Rogers, the president of Minnesota United FC, has said “The Wilf family’s exclusive five-year right to bring a MLS team to the Vikings’ new stadium extends only to the stadium, and does not mean the Wilfs have exclusive rights anywhere else in Minnesota.”

How much is the franchise fee?

The Vikings have mentioned 30-40 Million.  This is far too low. Commissioner Garber has said the 20th team will likely need to pay over $70 million for a franchise.

Why Minnesota and no [insert random city]?

MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche has called Minnesota a strong soccer market. “Major League Soccer certainly believes that Minneapolis could be an outstanding market — actually has been.

“Lots of interest there (Minnesota). We’ve had a high level of activity with the current Minnesota United — a strong ownership group, a very passionate group of guys that are very embedded in the community. We think they’re smart, we think they’re focused and they’re great community citizens. They really care about their city and a lot of their interest is not just about the sport, it’s really about — similar to what happened in Kansas City — how can an MLS team really enhance Minneapolis with another top-level sports team. We’d like more teams in the Midwest and Minneapolis is on the short list.” – Don Garber

Ok, gimme a call when someone gives us an MLS team.

That’s not a question, but we’ll respond. There tends to be a way of thinking about MLS teams that leads people to say “X City deserves it, because…” or “X person will bring a team to our city.” That isn’t how this process works. MLS franchises go to markets that have promise (the bigger a TV market you are, the better), to ownership groups that show they’re committed and have resources, and to markets that show promise for a fan base. This final part is really important and that’s where you come in. If you want to support the future of Minnesota soccer and a future MLS team, you need to show your support now. Buy a season ticket to Minnesota United, go to games, sing, build Minnesotan soccer culture from the ground up.

The Twin Cities don’t have the legendary support of soccer the way Seattle and Toronto did.

1. The Kicks brought in a ton of soccer fans and people still talk about it (but that was a long time ago, a different world perhaps).
2. Take a look at the attendance figures for Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, etc… when they were in the USL and Minnesota has always been at the same level (in particular before the end days of the Thunder).

If Division II soccer is always struggling in Minnesota. That proves Minnesota isn’t ready for MLS.

Minnesota’s struggles with their teams have less to do with the kind of support they get and everything to do with finding committed ownership groups. this, by the way, is the trouble throughout almost every level of soccer in the US. The fact is: it’s been a long time since Minnesota has had a stable ownership group. It’s been a long time since a Minnesota soccer team even had a real marketing budget. I don’t think pro soccer has really been given a full introduction into the Twin Cities.  This will change thanks to Minnesota United FC.

MLS wants soccer specific stadiums, you dolts, not huge football stadiums!

That is somewhat true, but you have to remember that MLS wants teams that will succeed. That is criteria #1. That means a stable ownership group, a good soccer environment, and a plan for profit. This last part is where the stadium comes in. The new stadium could be done poorly and the franchise could end up like New England or it could be done well and it could end up like Seattle.

Seattle? Oh, come on, you’re dreaming.

Would Minnesota have the 36k figures of Seattle? Perhaps not. However, even Seattle cuts down their huge football stadium to make it feel more intimate. A version of this could be done with the new stadium.

Dr. Bill McGuire or Zygi Wilf?

Zygi Wilf and the Vikings have said that some time in the future they might think about MLS.  Bill McGuire (owner of Minnesota United) has said he’s not currently thinking about MLS.  We are extremely happy with McGuire for saving Minnesota soccer. The continuity of the professional soccer in Minnesota will allow us to build toward that goal of an MLS team. But we’re here to grow soccer in Minnesota and if someday a real bid for an MLS franchise happens, then we’ll start thinking about it. Until then, we’re just happy that soccer is being talked about.

What can we do?

Here’s what you can do. The easiest thing is “like” MLS4MN on facebook. More importantly, you can support soccer in Minnesota. That means driving your lazy self up to Blaine and screaming like a crazy person for MN United. Tradition is not adopted, it is built with nails and a punk rock spirit. And yeah, sometimes it’s built in Blaine.