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Financing questions persist amid push to draw Major League Soccer to Las Vegas


The easy part is creating attractive soccer stadium renderings such as the proposed downtown Las Vegas venue recently tweeted by Major League Soccer.

And it takes only a few pushes of some cellphone keys to post Twitter photos of Las Vegas Councilmen Ricki Barlow and Steve Ross bearing smiles while holding an MLS soccer ball at a recent professional soccer game in Portland, Ore.

But the pro-soccer group pushing Las Vegas to support a $200 million initiative to draw a new Major League Soccer team and build a new soccer stadium at Symphony Park still has not answered some crucial questions.

What is the financing deal to build a new soccer stadium? How many public dollars are needed for it?

“Nothing is settled. There is nothing we can discuss at this point,” said Justin Findlay, managing partner of Findlay Sports &Entertainment, formed specifically to secure an MLS team and to develop a soccer stadium plan

The Las Vegas Review-Journal previously reported that a new soccer stadium is expected to cost at least $125 million, while the MLS expansion fee would be in the $70 million range.

Ross, who traveled to Portland to watch an MLS game between the Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids, said he’s excited about the prospect of pro soccer in Las Vegas, but he declined to say he would back public dollars earmarked for a new soccer stadium until he saw the proposed financing package.

“I want to see what the numbers are,” Ross said Monday. He said the city picked up the Portland travel and lodging tab for Barlow, three city officials and himself.

Las Vegas is competing against at least five other cities for the final opening for an expansion team in Major League Soccer. which wants 24 teams by the end of the decade.

The other cities vying for the last team are San Antonio and Austin in Texas, Sacramento and San Diego in California and Minneapolis.

Findlay said he expects the stadium price, financing plan and proposed public contribution to be ready Aug. 6. Findlay Sports &Entertainment is partnering with development company Cordish Cos. on the soccer team and stadium proposal, which is scheduled to be discussed at a City Council meeting Aug. 20.

Cordish joined forces with Findlay Sports &Entertainment after its unsuccessful attempt at building an arena in Symphony Park.

Findlay said Las Vegas is on the “short list” for the final team, but MLS spokesman Dan Cortemanche said Monday there is no short list.

“We’re intrigued by Las Vegas,” Cortemanche said. “There are a lot of interested markets.”

Cortemanche said MLS officials have not eliminated any markets vying for a team. “At some point that could occur,” he said.

Findlay said he asserted that Las Vegas is on the short list because his city is among the first ones mentioned as a potential host town in the media.

Last week, Findlay and his team of supporters met MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott to “educate him on Vegas.” Abbott also met Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

Findlay Sports &Entertainment released Monday a rendering of a retractable roof stadium but said the proposal is conceptual and that further analysis is needed to finalize the project.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

 

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