Las Vegas likely to land 30th MLS franchise



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Las Vegas front-runner for new MLS team Image: Conceptual Design-supplied

Las Vegas (US) is the frontrunner to land Major League Soccer’s (MLS’s) 30th franchise, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said on December 7th.

The ‘Las Vegas Review Journal’ stated that during his State of the League address, Garber simply said “yes” when asked if Las Vegas was in the lead to be the league’s next team.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States. The league comprises 27 teams – 24 in the United States and 3 in Canada – and plans to expand to 29 teams by the 2023 season.

The ‘Las Vegas Review Journal’ further stated that Garber said talks are still ongoing and include not only Las Vegas, but also Phoenix in Arizona (US) and San Diego in California (US). He said the City they choose should be announced within the next 10 months.

Stated Garber, “We’re making progress as has been announced, or as has been leaked in Las Vegas. We’re excited about the market as are all the other leagues here in North America.”

A group earlier this year headed by billionaire businessmen Wes Edens and Nassef Sawris filed to trademark Las Vegas Villains (the likely new franchise of MLS), tied to a professional soccer club. Garber said they’re working with Edens on the Las Vegas possibility. The National Hockey League (NHL) team Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley recently said he has withdrawn his pursuit of a MLS franchise team.

Added Garber, “Wes is a guy that we all have longstanding relationships with by the way he had looked at other MLS clubs over the years. We’ll continue those discussions and continue to try to get something done with our 30th team … within the next 10 months.”

The success that the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and the National Football League’s (NFL’s) Las Vegas Raiders have had in Las Vegas is not being overlooked, Garber said.

Garber continued, “What has been done with the Knights, what Bill (Foley) has done has been remarkable. I think it’s one of the great expansion team launches in the history of professional sports. What Mark (Davis) has done with the Raiders, both on the field and what he’s done with Allegiant (Stadium), is just spectacular. We’re very bullish about the market. We’ll continue to plow forward.”

The Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland Athletics’ possible relocation to Las Vegas will have no impact on the league’s decision on where its 30th club will end up, Garber further maintained.

Garber declined to detail specifics about what a Las Vegas MLS stadium could include, but said he envisions they could model it on what the Raiders built – “In Las Vegas you could conceivably see a soccer stadium that looks like a mini version of Allegiant Stadium.”

As far as timing is concerned, Garber said he doesn’t envision the league’s 30th club beginning to play in the league in the next couple of years – “We have not yet determined when that 30th team would start playing. The 30th team will not be in by 2023. That’s something everybody should be aware of.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her husband, former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, have been vocal for more than two decades about their support of pro sports teams landing in the Las Vegas Valley. Following the news of Las Vegas being the lead contender for the MLS expansion club, Carolyn Goodman said they would welcome them with open arms.

Stated Mayor Goodman in a text message, “Boy, we would love that expansion team here in Las Vegas.”

Although Las Vegas is the odds-on favorite to land the MLS expansion team, it appears the team might not land in Mayor Goodman’s City of Las Vegas jurisdiction.

Foley noted in October that Edens’ group was looking to build the stadium on 110 acres of land on Las Vegas Boulevard and Warm Springs Road, near where the planned Brightline high-speed train station is planned.

Edens is the co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, which owns Brightline and the plot of land located in unincorporated Clark County.

If Las Vegas wins the next MLS franchise, Garber noted the journey has been long for Southern Nevada.

Garber further stated, “Lamar Hunt (founding investor in MLS) in the earliest days in Major League Soccer, in its founding years, met with Oscar Goodman about Major League Soccer. We’re talking 26 years ago. I’ve met with both Oscar and Carolyn Goodman many times over the years. We had number of different goes, looking at Vegas for 5, 6, 7, 8 years. This is the approach we feel the most confident in.”

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