City Council establishes Major League Soccer stadium working group

The Minneapolis City Council adopted a resolution Friday morning creating a new working group tasked with sorting through issues related to the proposed Major League Soccer stadium on the edge of downtown Minneapolis.

The working group, made up of Mayor Betsy Hodges, Council President Barb Johnson, other council members and city officials, will examine the need for public infrastructure improvements to support the proposed stadium, the stadium’s potential impact on the city’s tax capacity and other publicly owned facilities, legislative strategies to support the proposal and potential public benefits for the project, among other things. (See resolution below.) 

The working group is expected to report to the Council’s Committee of the Whole in September on its progress and issue a final report to the Council by the end of the year.

Council President Johnson said she believes in the benefits of sports stadiums. She said she enjoyed listening to cheers from Target Field while walking along 1st Avenue during a recent Twins game and seeing packed crowds at bars and restaurants in the Warehouse District.

City Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2) questioned if it makes sense to proceed with the work group given that the group behind the soccer stadium is on a tight timeline to finalize the stadium site. He said he was told by a representative of the group that they need to nail down a plan for the stadium by July 1 to secure the franchise. 

Minnesota United team owner Bill McGuire and his investment partners had lobbied for tax breaks for the proposed stadium during the recent legislative session, but were unsuccessful in getting legislation finalized. The group has lobbied for a property tax exemption, among other things, for the proposed stadium near the Minneapolis Farmers Market. 

Earlier this year, Hodges wrote a blog post critical of McGuire’s group’s request for a property tax exemption. She sounded more amenable to working with other city leaders on a potential stadium deal at Friday’s Council meeting. “[The working group] will help bring us together,” she said. 

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) said she’s glad to see the working group moving ahead to help get city leaders on the same page.

“The issue here is transparency,” she said.