Representatives from MLS4MN have attended recent meetings of the 2020 Partners – a community-based coalition of businesses, political representatives and neighborhood groups interested in the growth, development and advocacy for the west side of downtown Minneapolis (North Loop Neighborhood, Target Field area, Farmers Market, etc.).
This group has drawn attention for including soccer at the forefront of its planning and activities. For example, the Target Field Station (light rail stop) offered viewing parties for US World Cup matches. The 2020 partners worked with Minnesota United FC to get the word out – and reported success with crowds growing with each showing and hundreds attending these outdoor communal events.
Aside from outreach, this group has consistently included professional soccer in their plans; an act given some legitimacy due to the active participation of the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Timberwolves. Notably, in proposed plans presented to the County Commissioners; 2020 Partners includes a spot for a soccer-specific stadium in the Farmers Market location in Minneapolis. This location would allow for a stadium overlooking the downtown skyline, and located adjacent to stadium parking and major light rail and bus lines. During meetings, members regularly query the efforts to attract a soccer-specific stadium to the area. The group has even drafted a statement asking Minnesota United FC to look at the Farmers Market area for a potential soccer stadium.
“The 2020 Partners organization encourages Minnesota United FC to explore the Farmers Market site for a soccer stadium as the potential anchor for development of a multi-use complex, retaining as a key element the Farmers Market with improved facilities, and maximizing the development opportunity from the existing and planned transit improvements.”
Of course, the inclusion of a downtown soccer-specific stadium in development plans is the equivalent of a wish list. The Twins and T-Wolves have not made any direct statement of MLS support. And Minnesota United FC has not made any determination about their stadium plans, whether in downtown Minneapolis or some other location. And any potential MLS team owned by the Vikings would play in the new football stadium. But the stadium references still matter to those who want to support professional soccer in Minnesota.
Even without someone offering to buy land and build a stadium, the efforts of groups like 2020 Partners sends a strong signal about the value of professional soccer in Minnesota. This advocacy group believes building a soccer stadium in their neighborhood would be beneficial to local growth and drive revitalization. More importantly, they are incorporating the possibility of a soccer stadium in their advocacy by considering small details in current projects. For example, the Target Field Station is designed to handle the flow of riders as games let out – leading to a much better fan experience than similar LRT stops outside TCF. The Southwest LRT is important for this group, not just for the current members, but also because a future soccer stadium and its inevitable fans could benefit from better access.
While we at MLS4MN look forward to more definite plans and the advancement of professional soccer in Minnesota, we are encouraged that a grass-roots community organization recognizes the value in supporting soccer in Minnesota.