MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 8, 2012) — After two years of searching, last week the North American Soccer League and Minnesota Stars FC announced an agreement in principle that would allow the team to continue playing in 2013 and beyond under new Minnesota-based ownership. On Thursday afternoon at Brit’s Pub, the team and the league held a joint press conference to introduce Minnesota businessman and philanthropist, Dr. William McGuire, as the soon-to-be owner of the Stars.
Stars CEO Djorn Buchholz began the event by addressing the team’s off-field achievements over the past two seasons as a small staff worked to make the team more attractive to a local ownership group and by encouraging the fans in attendance at the event to make a commitment to purchase season tickets for 2013. Buchholz was followed by NASL Commissioner David Downs, who led the search for ownership for the team, which has been owned and funded by the NASL for the past two years. Downs recapped the events that led to McGuire’s interest before introducing the Stars’ new owner.
Downs said: “Bringing Dr. McGuire and his family into the Minnesota Stars means so much for the league, not only because we’ve managed to keep the team going in a very important soccer market, but because we believe this will help provide the foundation for the Stars to thrive for many years to come.”
Dr. McGuire, best known for his tenure as chairman and CEO of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, stressed the importance of community involvement and installing stability. Mcguire said soccer’s 20-plus-year sustained growth among youth players and rapidly growing fan community made the purchase of the Stars attractive.
“Organizations that succeed do so because they have good people,” McGuire said. “We’re excited to bring some health and stability as we move soccer in this community ahead. We intend to extend the organization further into the community, including calling on people to help us understand what can be better.”
McGuire wouldn’t comment extensively on the future of where the team would play, acknowledging the facility the team currently occupies while also citing the potential of centralized locations in reaching the diverse fan groups he aims to make the team appealing to, taking the opportunity to once again stress his desire to deeply root the team in the community. McGuire and his wife Nadine have made several prominent philanthropic ventures in the Twin Cities and beyond, including gifts to the University of Minnesota, Walker Art Center and Guthrie Theater.
Finally, Stars head coach Manny Lagos, who has led the team to three straight playoff appearances, the 2011 NASL Championship and a berth in the 2012 NASL Championship Series, spoke about the team’s goals on the field in the weeks and months ahead as it builds toward 2013. Lagos did not speak in depth on the team’s personnel needs as it begins to build a roster, but he did address the challenge the league’s new format will present and shared his optimism that Minnesota will continue to be successful on the field under the new ownership group.
A native of St. Paul, Minn., whose father Buzz founded and coached the Minnesota Thunder, Lagos ranked the Stars’ recent events among the highlights of a soccer career that includes ana Olympics appearance, caps with the national team, and multiple MLS Cup championships in Major League Soccer.
“I put this moment right now with all of it, and it has to do with the people in the past who’ve created a baseboard for what Minnesota soccer is and a groundwork for what it can become,” he said.
Photo by Jeremy Olsen
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