weather icon Clear

Las Vegas council to explore deal for soccer stadium, MLS franchise

Updated May 29, 2019 - 8:17 pm

The Las Vegas City Council will consider a deal next week to build a new soccer stadium on the site of Cashman Field to house a Major League Soccer expansion franchise, city officials said Wednesday.

If city leaders approve the exclusive negotiating agreement with The Renaissance Companies Inc. on June 5, it will set off a 180-day window for talks to construct the stadium and mixed-use development on 62 acres where city-owned Cashman Field is located near downtown, with hopes of reaching a master development agreement.

The idea beyond the new stadium would be to build hotels and apartments while keeping Cashman Field to allow Las Vegas Lights FC to continue to play in the United Soccer League’s Championship division, a professional league a tier below the MLS, until the team was ready to join the MLS, and then be used as a practice field, according to Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

Goodman told the Review-Journal that she also would like to push a sports medicine facility for UNLV as a project component, but details will need to be negotiated for how wide-ranging the project will be.

The exclusive negotiating agreement calls for Renaissance, a project manager and financial structuring adviser, to present a detailed plan for stadium financing. It also requires that Lights team ownership to work with the city to submit an application to MLS for the Lights to become an expansion team, city officials said.

Stadium Deal Doc by Anonymous IwWqtsye on Scribd

Lights owner Brett Lashbrook told the Review-Journal he has agreed to sell the team to an investor represented by Renaissance, contingent upon the company and the city entering into the master development agreement. City documents made public Wednesday show the investor is Baupost Group LLC, a hedge fund managed by billionaire Seth Klarman.

Driver for development

“We have known from the beginning that Mayor Goodman loves downtown, Mayor Goodman loves soccer, Mayor Goodman believes that sports is a driver for economic development,” Lashbrook said.

Both pointed to the fan and city buy-in that was immediately evident for Lights soccer since it first took the field last year as an expansion team. The response, they agreed, has shown that MLS can be viable in Las Vegas. The Lights are averaging 7,593 fans this season in six regular-season games, fifth-best in the USL Championship league.

“There’s no hesitation at all that the success of the Lights have poured rocket fuel on the development of the Cashman district,” Lashbrook said.

Last month, MLS announced plans to expand from 24 to 30 teams. After Sacramento and St. Louis were invited to bid for franchises, and with other cities already in line to fill openings, one spot remains. Las Vegas is now vying to host that 30th team.

The city was previously a candidate for a team in 2015, but a proposed soccer stadium in Symphony Park failed when the league passed on the bid. In 2017, the council paid $80,000 to an investment firm in an attempt to lure investors and make an MLS expansion bid.

Goodman noted how her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, has tried unsuccessfully for years to appeal to professional hockey and basketball leagues and “of course, was laughed upon.” She said former NBA Commissioner David Stern had expressed aversion to the city’s licensed gaming industry.

Momentum moving

But then as more gaming became prevalent throughout the U.S., “that really put a whole different take on Nevada,” she said.

The mayor said she believed that the Cashman Field area, which had been offered to the Raiders, was most attractive because of parking and several access points that she said would be bolstered by the Regional Transportation Commission’s plans for multimodal transport from McCarran International Airport.

Goodman views the project as a new opportunity to keep downtown momentum rolling. The districts within it have been buoyed in recent years by redevelopment, and the stadium is located within a federal opportunity zone designed to spur private investment through tax incentives.

On Tuesday, the city announced it had received $45 million in New Market Tax Credits, a different federal program with similar aim, but Goodman said it was unclear whether any funding could be directed toward the project.

“To me it’s the greatest thing,” she said of the stadium possibility. “We’ve been working on it for a long time.”

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas might prosecute domestic violence without gun provision

The Las Vegas City Council will consider prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases under a new city code that would not ban those convicted of the crime from possessing firearms, in order to avoid having to hold jury trials for the offense.