Coffin: It’s not ‘soccer’ stadium, it’s ‘multipurpose’

Call it a “soccer stadium,” and Las Vegas Councilman Bob Coffin volunteers to correct you.

“You really want to call it a multipurpose stadium,” Coffin says.

It’s not just a matter of semantics for Coffin, the former state Assembly and Senate member who represents Ward 3.

Coffin, who voted in May to give developer The Cordish Cos. another chance to build a sports venue in Symphony Park with new partner, Findlay Sports and Entertainment, said the proposed stadium project needs to host other sports besides Major League Soccer games.

Coffin said the stadium for 15,000-25,000 fans could host rodeos, lacrosse, major high school football games or neutral site college football games for small schools.

Councilman Steve Ross, who traveled to Portland, Ore., recently at taxpayer expense to see an MLS game, agreed that any downtown Las Vegas stadium would need to host more events besides professional soccer.

Ross suggested a new stadium would be a good home for the Helldorado rodeo, which was held May 14-18 in Las Vegas.

“One of my priorities is to find a home for Helldorado,” he said.

Justin Findlay, managing partner of Findlay Sports and Entertainment, said the stadium would function as a multi-use venue.

“We feel our city needs a downtown stadium to host community events and additional field events,” he said.

Jon Fish, president of Fans For MLS To Vegas, added, “It would be a great way to make incremental revenue.”

Back in May, the City Council gave the Cordish-Findlay duo until Sept. 1 to come up with a financing and development plan for a $300 million stadium and MLS expansion team proposal. The vote gave the partnership until Dec. 1 to finalize the development agreement for the MLS stadium.

TWO MEETINGS POSTPONED

MLS is expanding to 24 teams, but there is only one slot left, with Las Vegas competing against Austin and San Antonio in Texas, Sacramento and San Diego in California, and Minneapolis. MLS wants teams to play in stadiums built for soccer first.

While the Las Vegas stadium-team proposal will require some level of public dollars, the city has not publicly discussed the soccer project, postponing two public meetings last week.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked city officials to discuss the matter, but the newspaper’s request for interviews was denied.

“At this point the city is declining the opportunity to do an interview on this project, as there is a confidentiality agreement in place and negotiations are ongoing,” city spokesman Jace Radke said.

Councilman Bob Beers, who voted against giving Cordish more time to come up with a stadium financing plan, said there is a $30 million gap in the funding for the stadium.

“We do not have a feasible plan,” Beers said this week.

By postponing last week’s two meetings, the city was not trying to hide anything from the public, Beers said.

“The city didn’t have adequate progress to report,” Beers said. The councilman said the “city is being close-mouthed … out of respect for (Cordish’s) litigious record.”

Port Telles, Cordish development director, declined to comment Tuesday and referred questions to public relations staffer Candice Coolahan. The Review-Journal emailed her questions, but there was no response.

INVESTOR OFFERS COMPETITION

The city’s process of shrouding the soccer stadium issue in secrecy is in contrast to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ stadium efforts. UNLV lobbied the state Legislature to create an 11-member stadium board and has studied its stadium issue in a transparent fashion. UNLV is supporting a 42,000-seat, open-air stadium on campus, which could also host soccer games.

The Cordish-Findlay team also has competition for an MLS soccer stadium and team. New York money management company owner Jason Ader, a gaming industry investor, also wants to make a pitch to bring professional soccer to the Las Vegas market.

While the Cordish-Findlay combo has not discussed stadium funding sources, Ross said a tourism improvement district and hotel room tax dollars could generate money to pay off stadium debt.

For now, Ross said he has no new details on the terms of a proposed stadium deal between the city and Cordish-Findlay.

“I wonder what is going on with this,” he said. “I have not been briefed on anything new.”

The soccer stadium issue has been removed from the City Council meeting agenda for Aug. 20, Radke said.

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

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