The Las Vegas City Council passed a resolution today to start negotiations with a developer to build a Major League Soccer stadium as part of a mixed-use development at the downtown Cashman Center site.
The city and Renaissance Companies Inc. now have 180 days to discuss financing for a stadium and a bid to turn the Las Vegas Lights FC into an MLS expansion team.
Renaissance Chairman Floyd Kephart said the stadium would not be built without an MLS team, but he was confident the league would approve Las Vegas for an expansion franchise.
A league spokesman was not available for comment, but Commissioner Don Garber said in April that Las Vegas was under consideration for a team, along with cities including Charlotte, Phoenix and Detroit.
Councilman Cedric Crear said Las Vegas is “primed to move up the ladder” of pro sports. The valley already has NHL hockey and WNBA basketball, and the NFL’s Raiders are set to start play in 2020 at a new stadium behind the Strip.
“It’s just a matter of time before we get an MLS team, before we get an NBA team, before we get a Major League Baseball team. Las Vegas is that city,” Crear said.
The proposed project, being called the Las Vegas Epicenter Sports and Innovation District, is described in a city news release as a "mixed-use live, work and play development."
The proposed soccer stadium, which would seat 25,000 fans, would have a retractable field that could host other events. It would be privately owned, but it has not been determined how much public money would be involved, if any.
The exclusive negotiating agreement calls for Renaissance to present a detailed financing plan for the council to review and approve.
The agreement also requires team ownership to work with the city to make an application to MLS for an expansion team. Lights owner and founder Brett Lashbrook said he has an agreement in place to sell the team at the close of the negotiating period.
“This is like watching your child grow up and exceed all expectations,” Lashbrook said. “This is so much bigger than just soccer.”
The Lights play in the USL Championship, the pro league just below MLS. The Lights started playing last year at Cashman Field.