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Minnesota United owner meets with governor over tax ememptions

Minnesota United was recently announced as the newest MLS expansion team.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The business group behind a new Minnesota Major League Soccer franchise made a high-level pitch Tuesday for a stadium financing package reliant on city, county and state tax breaks.

The Minnesota United FC ownership group offered details in private meetings with Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders of the Legislature. Former UnitedHealth Group chief executive Bill McGuire declined to comment to reporters about the request. The Twins' Pohlad family and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor are also part of the group.

Dayton said after a meeting at the governor's residence with McGuire and a few others that the group wants a sales tax exemption on construction materials worth up to $3 million as well as city and county property tax breaks on the proposed Minneapolis stadium site. While relying on public assistance, the proposal doesn't appear to contain a direct, cash-on-the-table public subsidy like other recent stadium deals in Minnesota.

The governor says he's open to considering them."`I haven't committed to anything," Dayton stressed.

Legislative leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt, have downplayed the prospects for a stadium package this year.

The Minnesota United FC team, which has a lower-level team in the state now, won rights to the new MLS franchise last month. But the team is scrambling to assemble a financing plan to build an open-air, natural-grass stadium in time for a team to play by 2018.

The Minnesota Vikings owners had been in competition for the franchise, with exclusive rights to host a team in the under-construction Vikings stadium. But the McGuire-led group won out.

Stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings get exemptions from property taxes, but those are publicly owned facilities. It's not clear whether the soccer stadium would be a privately held facility or public.

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