1. Save 40-80% on great soccer jerseys. Shop today at BigSoccer Shop!

Roadblocks to Local Investment?

Discussion in 'Minnesota United FC' started by ButlerBob, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2001
    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    Club:
    DC United
    Country:
    United States
    I know that there are more Minnesota supporters on another board, but there are a few long time fans that post here. It doesn't sound like there is any new or rumors of news for local investors or owners. What do you think are some of the issues? Here's a few that I could think of up the top of my head.

    1. Potential intrest by Vikings owern for a MLS franchise.

    Even if it would be 5 - 6 years down the road, why put money into something that may bet pushed out by a MLS team arrival.

    2. In spite of doing well on the field and having a good stadium situation there doesn't look like there is enough support for a team at this level. By support thinking both tickets and sponsorship.

    These are just some thoughts. What do the Minnesota folks think?
     


  2. uhclem

    uhclem Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Location:
    Spring Lake Park, MN
    Pretty much dead on.

    The interest in an MLS franchise by the Vikings owners isn't potential. It is definite, contingent on a new stadium (with the probability of their moving without one). The Wilfs have already been in contact with the league on the subject. If the Vikings get their new stadium, the state will get an MLS franchise. And unless new owners poured a relatively massive amount of money into the Stars, they would not survive.

    Apart from the MLS factor, there are signs that there is enough support for soccer at this level, with the right ownership plan.

    Before the radical drop in number of teams in second division soccer, the team was in the top 1/3rd in attendance. And under the ownership of Bill George, former CEO of Medtronics and local business leader, the Thunder used to have many sponsorships from local businesses including 3M, Target, and Honeywell.

    Also, the Thunder had numerous matches with attendance exceeding 6,000 including a few A-League matches drawing around 10,000.

    The problem has been marketing and publicity. Historically, the team has never consistently marketed itself to the general public. In a major market like the Twin Cities, the free publicity you normally get from the mass media has been, for the most part, nonexistent. In this town, if you aren't major league, you are not on the radar, and get very little coverage.

    Which means that anyone who owns the team must shell out major bucks to get the team name in front of the general public consistently. And this has never been done. When the money has been spent (on particular matches, such as USOC matches against MLS opposition), the results have been positive. But the team has never done this consistently. One year, they would be on billboards, the next year, not. Ads run on different radio stations from year to year, disappearing altogether periodically. The same with the print media ads. The general public was never sure where we were or even if we existed anymore.

    There was no way for the general public to get involved in the team, because the team could never establish a narrative for the public to follow. With the exception of the local soccer community, nobody knew who played for us, and had never heard of our league or who else was in it. The approach, as inconsistent as it was, was "We play soccer, come see us, it's fun for the family." Pull out the word "soccer" and there are thousands of other places to choose from whose marketing is essentially the same.

    Bottom line, the only way for this team to have a hope of surviving, competing against the MLS or not, is for the club to maintain top level competitiveness on the pitch while investing in major amounts of marketing consistently, over a long period of time, until they have mined their niche market to it's fullest extent and created a large enough number of real team followers to allow the club to draw enough to maintain viability.

    "All of which will happen, contingent on my Powerball win," promises

    That little old jersey collector

    Me
     
  3. Goforthekill

    Goforthekill Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Country:
    United States
    the Twin Cities could definitely support an MLS franchise. the Stars have a low attendance because they play in a crappy stadium in blain, . which is about a 30 minute drive from downtown.
     
  4. uhclem

    uhclem Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Location:
    Spring Lake Park, MN
    First sentence, right on.

    The rest, not so much.

    The current stadium, while a bit bare bones, is still in the middle of the biggest soccer complex in the world. The pitch is of very good quality and there is plenty of room for tailgating and other activities. Plus, since many of the games are scheduled during the various tournaments sponsored by the NSC, there is a potential audience already there for those games, which usually have a somewhat higher attendance then other matches.

    As to the location, the stadium is a 20 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis (I have made the trip literally hundreds of times). In the Mid-2000s, the team played almost directly in the middle of the Twin Cities Metro area, directly off of the biggest Interstate (94) in the state. Attendance dropped. A variety of factors were involved, but a major one was that the team lost the tournament bump that the NSC provided. Also, many surburban followers of the team didn't want to make the 20 minute drive into the city and its "crime" and "parking problems", etc.

    Now, I am not saying that a new stadium with a few gewgaws would not help the situation a bit, but without better marketing, the attendance bump would be relatively small and short-lived.

    This team has an almost zero recognition factor outside of the soccer community and until that changes through major commitments to increased advertising and consistant marketing, the team will struggle with both finding an owner and a following big enough to sustain the team.

    "Hope to see you at a match this season," encourages

    That little old jersey collector

    Me
     


  5. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2001
    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    Club:
    DC United
    Country:
    United States
  6. Goforthekill

    Goforthekill Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Country:
    United States
  7. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    Club:
    Chicago Red Stars
    Country:
    United States
    Well I guess possible investors for the stars.

    Seems to me the Stars will stay league owned until they move or it is know if there would be a MLS team in Minnesota.

    Funny that the Atlanta and Minnesota MLS expansion teams would play in NFL size stadiums, looking to replicate Seattle, but what if they get Washington DC?
     
  8. bullsear

    bullsear Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Club:
    Newcastle United FC
    This is the kind of thing I hate to see. The Stars are a very good organization with great players and a lot of heart.

    A lot of fans, players, and coaches care. A lot.

    I say bring on MLS, but let's not be so quick to throw our team under the bus just because Wilf might decide to benevolently hand us a ready-made fan experience.

    We've seen what NFL owners tend to do with their MLS teams, and it ain't pretty.
     
  9. Jossed

    Jossed Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Club:
    Ft Lauderdale Strikers
    The Stars are dead the minute MLS looks like it is coming to Minnesota. The NASL knows this and the team will be either folded or moved. It is what it is.

    This is why it will be hard to find local owners for Minnesota and Atlanta.
     
  10. bullsear

    bullsear Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Club:
    Newcastle United FC
    I didn't say anything to the contrary. I think we all need to be honest about what the future holds for the Stars.

    But that doesn't mean we should drop them already. MLS still isn't a foregone conclusion, and the Stars may well have 5-10 more years until a Minnesota MLS team can be expanded into the league.
     
  11. NorthernWall

    NorthernWall Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    We have 4 years minimum before an MLS team comes. A stadium wouldn't be complete till 2016. A lot can happen between then and now.
     
  12. uhclem

    uhclem Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Location:
    Spring Lake Park, MN
    A semi-quick additional note or two...

    There seems to be almost an assumption here that the stadium is a done deal. The facts are far from that.

    While a tentative deal has been struck between the Vikings owners and the Governor's office, none has been with the state legislature or the Minneapolis City Council.

    The feeling among the general populace is that they do not want to contribute public money to a new pro sports stadium. And state legislators (especially those outside the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area) are very sensitive to this. An awful lot of State Senators and Representatives are going to have to be converted from their current opposition to any publicly funded stadium plan.

    Currently, the majority of the City Council opposes the plan because of the need to divert certain city sales taxes currently used to pay for the Minneapolis Convention Center to the new stadium. Also, according to the Minneapolis City Charter, if a public referendum for the city funding the new stadium is not held, the City would be vulnerable to lawsuits filed by any city resident or residents opposing the plan.

    Now I'm not saying that ways around the above are impossible to work out (since the Xcel Energy Center and the Twins Stadium got built in the same toxic public atmosphere in regards to public stadium financing), but the announced plan is only the first hurdle in a series that must be overcome in a relatively short amount of time.

    If the hurdles are not overcome by the end of the spring legislative session, that will move back the completion of any stadium to 2017, if at all.

    It's all still highly speculative.

    And on a side note, since the situation is highly fluid for not only the stadium, but the Stars as well, a future Minnesota MLS franchise might not kill the Stars (although it remains a very likely possibility). If the Stars can raise it's profile among the Twin Cities general public and begin to develop a significant following, utilizing smart, consistent marketing coupled with top notch on-field performance, it could survive in a manner similar to the St. Paul Saints minor league baseball team. Or, it could become attractive enough for the Wilfs to purchase for the pittance that the team would cost them.

    Sadly, up to now no one, for various reasons has spent the amount of money necessary on a consistent, big-city sized marketing strategy. If someone steps forward and does that, the Thunder/Stars just might once again escape oblivion.

    "Powerballs willing, that could be me" suggests

    That little old jersey collector

    Me
     
  13. jw07

    jw07 Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Country:
    United States
    $900,000,000 for a new stadium in the exact same place (little new private development opportunities), the exact same size, with no retractable roof, part of the money comes from re-directed city funds (many have already said no to), and another part of the funding will come from pull-tab gambling...? Has just a few problems before it gets through the MN state government.

    The state government has not addressed the stadium issue and it will now take a special session to pass a stadium bill.
    Maybe the money can come from all the dollars saved this year on snow removal?

    The part I find interesting (and no one has addressed it yet, that I can find) is that the MN Vikings owner has worked out the five year MLS rights deal with the building of a new stadium, but in the plan for the Minneapolis dome re-build site all other revenues from events other than the NFL football games would go to the city/stadium. How would that work for the potential MLS team owned by the Vikings owner?
     

Share This Page