Efforts to finally break through the glass ceiling of sports in Las Vegas may have hit another snag, as city officials balk at a stadium revenue proposal. Hoping to attract Major League Soccer to Nevada’s largest city, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman and two city council members backed a stadium proposal drafted by Cordish Companies and Findlay Sports & Entertainment. However, several other members of the council, including Lois Tarkanian – wife of former UNLV Head Basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian – have voiced their concerns over public funding for the project and vowed to vote against the proposal. These development likely mean that Las Vegas will have to wait several more years before making another play for a MLS franchise.
In August Cordish and Findlay Sports presented a presented a proposal for a 24,000 seat soccer-specific stadium at a cost of $200 million, while MLS expansion fees and other expenses brought the total amount for the project to close to $410 million. The project was not without controversy after some discrepancy related to the amount of public to private funding required to complete the stadium project. The original proposal claimed the project would receive 75 percent of its funding through private sources, however, some news reports claim to have discovered the project would actually require as much as 69 percent funding by taxpayers. Questions also arose regarding anticipated revenue through rent payments and other financial arrangements, leading Tarkanian to state publically her intentions to vote against the project in October.
This isn’t the first time Vegas has flirted with major league professional sports. There have been efforts in recent years to bring Major League Baseball, the NFL, NHL and NBA to southern Nevada. While Las Vegas hosted the Utah Jazz for part of the 1983-84 season, and the Oakland Athletics for six games at the beginning of the 1996 season, the city's only current major sporting event is the Kobalt 400, an annual Sprint Cup NASCAR race.
Vegas’ role in legalized sports gambling has always been a concern for sports league officials, however an MLS franchise looked promising with the league looking to expand from 19 to 24 teams by 2020. Recently, MLS awarded franchises to New York, Atlanta, and Orlando, leaving only two teams left to be awarded under the current expansion plan. Other cities lobbying for a MLS team include Sacramento, San Antonio, Miami, and Minneapolis.
Related Story: 4 Cities That Deserve a NFL Franchise
Should Las Vegas get a major league sports franchise? Let us know what you think in the Forum