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Goodman not done fighting to bring pro soccer

Despite failing in a bid two years ago to bring a Major League Soccer team to Las Vegas, Mayor Carolyn Goodman isn’t done fighting to bring a professional sports team to the core of the city proper.

“There remains a huge interest in a Major League Soccer expansion team,” Goodman said Thursday night during her annual State of the City address at City Hall.

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Goodman said she spoke to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber in October about the city’s renewed effort and found him receptive to the idea.

He even offered pointers to bolster Las Vegas’ chances, Goodman said. The biggest tip, she said, was to keep improving the annual Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup, an international soccer tournament that attracts hundreds of teams. Doing so would show the MLS a continued dedication to the sport.

And as with the previous pitches, Goodman said she believes Cashman Center, a complex owned by the city, is the ideal spot.

Using Cashman could save developers upward of $250 million in costs, she said, because the infrastructure for a sports complex or stadium is already in place. And there would be no need for additional road alterations, such as freeway widening or flyovers because those are already happening near Cashman, thanks to Project Neon, she added.

Attracting a team to the heart of Las Vegas also would help revitalize the surrounding low-income neighborhoods through redevelopment efforts, Goodman said.

“Cashman presents the most compelling argument for major league sports,” the mayor added.

The push for a professional team was one of five key areas Goodman said the city will focus on in 2017. The other four are bolstering funding for security and terrorism preparedness; making Nevada and Las Vegas health care more competitive; helping the homeless and mentally ill; and bolstering education.

For health care, Goodman said Nevada’s Medicaid reimbursements, which are set by the state, are too low, causing doctors to move to neighboring states and Nevada to lag behind in quality care. The mayor said she’d push the Legislature to up those reimbursement rates.

“We are bleeding those doctors,” Goodman said.

In terms of education, Goodman homed in on the Clark County School District budget and said the district needs to find a way to provide an additional $7,000 per student.

Goodman said she doesn’t want to see any additional taxes to do that, and that she believes the money could be found through an analysis of the school district’s central adminstrative offices.

“Where are those dollars and why aren’t they educating our children?” Goodman asked.

The mayor noted, however, that while she wants to see it improve, the city has no control over education in Southern Nevada.

During her roughly hourlong speech, Goodman also highlighted some of the top new businesses to open last year in the city, including the Lucky Dragon Casino, as well as several key achievements made by the city. Chief among those achievements was seeing city operations hit its 8-year-old goal of operating on 100 percent renewable energy.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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