Soccer fans in Las Vegas weren’t the only ones paying attention to Wednesday’s City Council vote regarding the possibility of bringing Major League Soccer to town. MLS released a statement today saying it was interested in hearing more about the Las Vegas plan.
“Major League Soccer appreciates the recent interest in securing a future MLS expansion club for Las Vegas,” the statement said. “We look forward to speaking with interested ownership groups, Mayor (Carolyn) Goodman and Las Vegas business leaders in the coming months to further understand the potential for Las Vegas as home for an MLS expansion team in the future.”
The statement echoes remarks from MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who said in April that he viewed Las Vegas favorably, though he viewed other cities with the same zeal.
“We continue to believe that there are many, many cities across the country that can support an MLS team with a great stadium with a great fan base and with great local ownership that will invest in building the sport in their community,” he said.
“We of late have been in very positive discussions in Las Vegas and in Charlotte,” Garber said. “We still believe Phoenix is a good market. We have been in discussions with, in Detroit.”
MLS has 24 teams, including Cincinnati, which started play as an expansion team this year. Nashville, Miami and Austin will join the league by 2021.
The league said it hopes to eventually expand to 30 teams. St. Louis and Sacramento are rumored to be favored for cities No. 28 and 29, leaving Las Vegas as a possible No. 30.
The Las Vegas City Council put in motion a plan Wednesday to revitalize Cashman Field, home of the USL Las Vegas Lights FC, and turn downtown into a soccer haven.
Renaissance Companies Inc., the developer that entered into negotiations with the city for a new stadium, said it is confident Las Vegas will get a team.
“We feel very comfortable about getting MLS,” Renaissance Chairman Floyd Kephart said. “I think over the next 10 years, Las Vegas will have the three remaining pro sports here” — Major League Soccer, NBA basketball and Major League Baseball.
Las Vegas already has an NHL hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the NFL’s Raiders will begin playing football here in 2020.
Five years ago, Las Vegas attempted to make a bid for an MLS team, which was rejected by the league over fears of uncertainty in the market. Plans were laid for a $200 million downtown stadium, with about half the money coming from the city.
It is not yet known how this bid will progress or how much public money will be used. Recent comparisons to stadiums across the league put an estimated price tag of the stadium between $200 million and $250 million, as well as a $200 million expansion fee.
The difference this time is the acceptance of major league teams in the city. Besides the Golden Knights and the Raiders, the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces started play last year.