The city of Las Vegas has launched a bid to bring professional soccer to town. The gambling capital of the world will hope that a new proposal will entice Major League Soccer (MLS) to bet on Sin City and award them with the leagues 24th expansion team. The Cordish Companies have teamed up with Findlay Sports and Entertainment to form the ownership group that is attempting to bring the first professional team to town.
Las Vegas has already started to move quickly to put a proposal together to present to the league. There are other cities hoping to land the 24th franchise. Las Vegas is joining Minneapolis, San Antonio, Sacramento and Indianapolis as potential homes for the new soccer team. Minneapolis is leading the prospective cities vying or the franchise with two groups hoping to pull the expansion team to Minnesota. One group is led by Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad. Pohlad’s group would like to build a soccer stadium for the expansion team. Minnesota Vikings owner, Zygi Wilf wants to bring the team to his team’s new football stadium.
The bid by Las Vegas includes plans to construct a new professional soccer stadium in downtown. The ownership group has already acquired the land needed for the stadium. A 61 acre site at Symphony Park has been selected for a proposed 24,000 seat stadium. The ownership group led by Justin Findlay and Blake Cordish met with Mark Abbott, MLS President and Deputy Commissioner in New York to discuss the bid. Abbott was very impressed with the new bid and is looking forward to working with the city to further develop their plans. That news is very encouraging for Vegas and the ownership group.
The bet put down by the ownership group to bring an MLS expansion team to the city looks very good. The anticipated cost for the team and the stadium is expected to be $300 million. The ownership group has already struck a deal with the city of Las Vegas to partially fund the franchise and venue. With an ownership group in place, funding lined up, and a stadium location and preliminary stadium plan in place, the city is now hoping that the league will take a chance on Vegas as the 24th expansion team home.
If the MLS does pick Las Vegas over other potential cities, it could help the city land other professional sports franchises. While the new soccer team would not start play until the 2020 season, there is already a new 22,000 seat arena going up in the city. The new arena being built behind New York-New York hotel and casino could potentially home an NBA or NHL franchise. A MLS team would also create close to 1,000 permanent jobs for the city. Bringing a professional sports team to Vegas has been a long-term goal of the city. Former Mayor Oscar Goodman and his wife Carolyn, who is the current mayor of Las Vegas, have both been strong advocates for a professional sports team in the city.
In 2008 local media in Las Vegas had reported the city was on the short list for MLS expansion. That bet fell through and left Sin City to continue to dream of a professional franchise coming to town. The new dream taking form is that this new bid will bring professional soccer to town and open the doors for more pro sports teams to call Vegas home.
Commentary by Carl Auer