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Soccer stadium finds unlikely foe — soccer moms

They’re a varied bunch, these opponents to the finance deal for a proposed downtown Las Vegas soccer stadium.

They range from the Culinary Local 226 to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North.

The stadium funding foes also include another unlikely group — the Nevada Youth Soccer Association, which represents 10,000 statewide soccer players, including 7,500 in Southern Nevada.

You’d think soccer moms would welcome the chance to buy a Major League Soccer ticket and support public dollars to help build a $200 million, 24,000-seat stadium.

But there’s a major problem, says Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, a Las Vegas consultant representing Nevada Youth Soccer Association.

Mayo-DeRiso argues the city is increasing park fees for playing fields and lighting by an average of $40 per kid while also proposing to spend $3 million of parks money on the proposed MLS soccer stadium.

Mayo-DeRiso attended a Sept. 3 City Council meeting to voice the group’s opposition to the proposed soccer stadium finance plan.

“It is ironic. The soccer community in Las Vegas, especially the kids who play and that audience, has the highest propensity to buy a ticket to watch the soccer team play. However at the same time, the city in July came to us with a $9.6 million parks and rec deficit and said they would have to raise our fees by 2015 by $1.5 million,” Mayo DeRiso said.

“That’s, on average, $40 per participating kid,” she said.

But it’s not so simple, City Manager Betsy Fretwell said Tuesday. She pointed out that only 6 percent of the city’s population uses all the city sports fields, with city fees covering only 12 percent of the $11 million it takes to run the fields annually. The city manager said the city was also not charging for lighting.

Fretwell also noted the $3 million earmarked for the proposed soccer stadium comes from a source of money typically used for park and recreation capital improvements and not for daily operations like managing a city park field.

The city is partnering with the private team of The Cordish Cos., a Baltimore-based development company, and Findlay Sports & Entertainment, a Las Vegas company backed by the Findlay car dealership chain.

Justin Findlay, of Findlay Sports, said he has talked with Nevada Youth Soccer Association.

“They are advocates of Major League Soccer and the stadium, but they disagree with where the money comes from,” Findlay said.

“We believe youth soccer, in general, will benefit tremendously from having a Major League Soccer team here,” he said Tuesday. “We plan on having not only youth soccer at the stadium but also having youth sports at this venue.”

The city’s deal with Cordish-Findlay calls for the city to put up $155.75 million toward the stadium, while the private partners put up $$44.25 million, which translates into an annual debt of about $8 million for the city.

Las Vegas would take $3 million of the $6.5 million it receives annually in hotel room revenues to help pay its share, while Cordish-Findlay would pay the city $3.5 million in annual rent and $500,000 annually for the first 10 years and $1.5 million a year in years 11-30 to pay off the general obligation bonds issued by the city.

Here’s how the city of Las Vegas projects to use its hotel room tax revenues for fiscal 2015:

— $2.34 million for debt service for the final payment on 10-year recreation bonds from 2004.

— $562,150 for fund balance in reserves.

— $3.6 million for parks capital projects such as park renovations, pool maintenance, trail improvements.

Politically speaking, the finance plan has not won over the seven-member City Council. Councilmen Stavros Anthony, Bob Beers and Bob Coffin oppose the stadium funding deal, while Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian came out last week against the funding deal.

But Findlay said the private partnership is working on amending the funding to reduce the financial risk to the city.

In fact, Findlay said he and Cordish Vice President Blake Cordish visited Tarkanian on Tuesday to see if they can convince her to support the stadium deal.

The council is scheduled to vote on a nonbinding stadium deal on Oct. 1. If it’s rejected, the stadium deal is buried, but if it’s approved, the tentative deal goes before the Council for a final agreement vote in December.

Asked how the meeting went with Tarkanian, Findlay said, “She has an open mind.”

Tarkanian could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Wednesday’s Ward 3 scheduled stadium public information meeting in Coffin’s district is 5 p.m. at City Hall Council Chambers, 495 S. Main St. It will be carried live on KCLV Channel 2.

And on Thursday, a big crowd is expected for the final stadium meeting in Tarkanian’s Ward 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Development Services Center, 333 N. Rancho Drive, Great Basin Room 5th Floor.

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

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