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Twin Cities has inside track for expansion MLS franchise, league commissioner says

A rendering of what the new Vikings stadium would look like for the MLS.
A rendering of what the new Vikings stadium would look like for the MLS.

-- Update at bottom --

Earlier this month, Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, told us "there's discussions going on with the MLS about getting an franchise here but nothing that's finalized." The idea, of course, is that an MLS team could play its home games at the new Vikings stadium.

RELATED: Dark Clouds: Embedded with Minnesota United FC's misfit fans

There still hasn't been anything finalized at this point, but judging by comments made during a conference call today by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the Twin Cities has the inside track to land a team.

The league plans to add two teams to expand to 24 within the next five years or so, and today, Garber addressed the topic of which markets are the leading contenders. He mentioned just two by name -- Atlanta and the Twin Cities.

"That opportunity is one that we're excited about as we believe we need more teams in the midwest," Garber said. "I think if Minneapolis as a market can continue to show the support that they've had for the NASL club [Minnesota United] and if they continue to make progress on a number of different stadium opportunities, there's a real opportunity there."

A United spokesperson told us the team is working on a statement in response to Garber's comments and will release it  shortly. We also left a voicemail with the Sports Facilities Authority seeking comment but haven't heard back as this is published.

The addition of an MLS franchise would make the Twin Cities the second smallest metro area with teams in each of "big five" professional sports leagues -- NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS -- just ahead of Denver. (And Denver, it should be noted, doesn't have a WNBA team.)

:::: UPDATE :::: Late this afternoon, Eric Durkee, spokesman for the United FC, got in touch with us and said, "We hope to speak to this subject very soon and offer comment, but at this point in time our focus is on our upcoming season."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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