Ex-CEO of UnitedHealth Group Buys Minnesota Stars, Possibly Saving Team

Updated: 11/08/2012 7:39 PM KSTP.com By: Chris Long

Click the video box on this page to see video from the Stars' press conference announcing Dr. Bill McGuire as the team's new owner... interviews with McGuire, Stars player Kyle Altmann and NASL commissioner David Downs... and McGuire's comments during his introduction.

Minnesota's only pro soccer team won a North American Soccer League championship in 2011 and made the Championship Series in 2012, but was in danger of disappearing before a long-sought local owner finally materialized. 

Dr. Bill McGuire, former CEO of UnitedHealth Group, was introduced as the team's new principle owner at a press conference Thursday.

For the past two years, the Stars were owned and operated by the league - an arrangement that was unlikely to continue any longer despite the teams on-field success.

Reports said the NASL - the nation's second-level of pro soccer behind Major League Soccer  - would disband the team if a local owner was not secured.

According to Twin Cities Business Magazine, McGuire became president of UnitedHealth in 1989 and rose to Chief Executive Officer in 1991.  McGuire's reign saw the company enjoy massive expansion and growth into the nation's second-largest health insurance organization.  TBBM says McGuire was Minnesota's highest-paid executive from 2000 to 2005.  McGuire left UnitedHealth in 2006.

The Stars have been one of the more remarkable success stories both on and off the field in their two years of existence.  Both seasons, the Stars barely qualified for the postseason as the 6th and final seed.  Both seasons, they ran off a string of upsets leading to Championship Series appearances.  In 2011, the Stars defeated Fort Lauderdale to claim the state's second-ever pro soccer championship.  In 2012, the Stars lost a heartbreaking Championship Series to Tampa Bay.

Having played two seasons at the National Soccer Center in Blaine, McGuire opened the possibility of exploring other options around the Twin Cities.

Neither McGuire nor NASL commissioner David Downs expressed any concern about the possibility a Major League Soccer franchise could land in the region soon, which could effectively bump the Stars out. 

The Wilf family, which owns the Minnesota Vikings, have an option to bring an MLS franchise to the Twin Cities.

The Wilfs' stadium agreement with the city, county and state only provides money for a fixed-roof configuration on the Vikings new stadium.  If a retractable roof is to be included, the Wilf's would cover all costs beyond the fixed-roof pricetag.

Major League Soccer has said in the past it does not want franchises based in domes or indoor-only facilities.

Follow Minnesota Stars FC on Twitter at @MnStarsFC