Minnesota Stars could be finished by end of the year

Minnesota Stars could be finished by end of the year
Photo: Jeremy Olson, DigitalGopher.net.

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    If the Minnesota Stars don't find a new owner soon, they could be gone by the end of the year.

    In 2011, the North American Soccer League took ownership of the Stars to meet a mandate that at least eight teams be active in the league. The idea was to build the franchise up, and find a local owner to buy the team within three years. But with the emergence of a new team in New York last week, the deadline to lock down new ownership might arrive much sooner.

    The future of the division-two team could be decided this October at the league's Board of Governors meeting, says David Downs, NASL commissioner. If the Stars haven't found an owner by then, they could be finished.

    "It's distinctly a possibility," says Downs. "It certainly wouldn't be a preference."

    Despite the Stars being the 2011 NASL champions, finding an owner for the team was a bleak prospect even before the New York Cosmos entered the equation.

    As part of the Vikings stadium deal, the football team's owners are guaranteed a five-year monopoly on a Major League Soccer franchise in the new facility, expected to open in 2016. Though the Vikings haven't made any commitments yet, soccer fans worried that the mere threat of a major league team coming to Minnesota made the Stars less attractive.

    Downs says the New York Cosmos joining the league puts "considerable urgency" on the search for a new owner, and there is discussion of bringing in a public relations firm or investment bank to help with the process.

    On the flip side, he hopes the Cosmos could actually ease the search by making the league as a whole more desirable for potential buyers.

    "Ironically, it could turn out to be what helps attract the interest that gets us over the finish line by finding someone to take them on," says Downs. "So it cuts both ways."

    But as of this moment, says Downs, no one has stepped up. And if something doesn't happen soon, it could come down to simple math.

    "You could make the argument that, 'Well heck, if you've got the New York Cosmos playing, why do you need Minnesota as a ninth team if it's costing all the other teams money?'"

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