Las Vegas gives Cordish 3 more months to develop soccer stadium proposal

Despite continued concerns about the public financing aspect of building a soccer stadium downtown, the Las Vegas City Council voted 6-1 Wednesday to grant the Cordish Cos. and its new partner three more months to develop a proposal for funding it.

Cordish, which for the past four years has had an exclusive agreement with the city to develop a $390 million arena, has scaled back the project to a less expensive soccer stadium. But a new partnership with the Findlay family of Las Vegas has re-energized the project, which faced a June 1 deadline to put forth a proposal, a deadline Cordish wasn’t going to meet.

The council gave the partners until Sept. 1 to come up with a financing plan. They will have until Dec. 1 to get a commitment from Major League Soccer to locate an expansion team in Las Vegas. Without that commitment, no arena will be built.

Right now, cities all over the country are competing for two uncommitted expansion teams.

Only Councilman Bob Beers voted against giving the partners more time. “I have concerns about the feasibility of the whole thing,” he said. “They’re dancing around this, but they’re going to ask for $150 million in tax dollars.”

Officials from Cordish and Findlay Sports and Entertainment both declined to confirm that number, but Beers said later that was the number mentioned at city staff meetings.

His second concern is that the city is paying $200,000 a month in bond interest payments on all of Symphony Park and hasn’t been able to sell those parcels. “By being tied up with the exclusivity agreement, the city is losing other opportunities.” He said two NBA teams have expressed interest in downtown, but the city couldn’t consider those because of the agreement with Cordish.

Several other council members expressed concerns about the public financing aspect, but agreed to give the partners more time, partly because of the Findlay family’s participation.

“I’m very pleased the Findlay family is involved,” said Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian. “My concern is how long we’ve tied up this land. Why do we have to have an exclusivity agreement? What this is doing now is tying up land and tying up money and getting nothing from it.”

Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, “The time is now. I fully believe we have to continue and not be scared of taking it forward. … We have got to go forward and give them a chance.”

Her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, began the push for a downtown arena during his term and she embraced the idea when she was elected in 2011 and began talking with Cordish.

The scaled-down arena plan relies on a $300 million investment by the partners for construction of a soccer arena, a live entertainment district, and the purchase of a major league soccer team.

Justin Findlay said he had no idea how much would be needed for the public aspect of the project, saying it was too early to know those figures. But the partners said there must be some public financing.

Contact Jane Ann Morrison at jmorrison@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275.