Las Vegas has invented and reinvented itself time and again. I grew up here, and I’ve seen it all firsthand.
I’ve seen the Strip grow from just a few casinos into one of the biggest tourist destinations the world has ever known. I’ve seen businesses such as the one my grandfather started in 1961 explode from a single car dealership into a group that sells thousands of automobiles a year. I’ve seen the city wrap its heart and arms around The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the Discovery Children’s Museum to give us cultural and educational epicenters.
I am confident, if given the opportunity, the good people of Las Vegas would line up to cheer their own professional sports team.
And just as The Smith Center and the Discovery Children’s Museum created markets that didn’t exist before they arrived, a Major League Soccer stadium and professional team would transform our community and help to create a true sports culture here. In the Entertainment Capital of the World, family-friendly events and activities are few and far between. Professional soccer would fill that void and raise the quality of life for everyone in our community.
It vexes me that we are without a team, because we are an incredibly diverse community of 2 million-plus people — a metropolitan area larger than any other in the United States without a major pro franchise — and among those millions, I see sports fans from all walks of life who just want to cheer for a pro team.
But the problem is, they can’t. There is nobody to cheer for.
When I attended my first MLS match — a regular-season game where DC United was visiting Real Salt Lake — I thought I had stepped into another world, a world where the sport was fresh and exciting, and the stands were so full of energy that I thought I would be carried away on a euphoric wave of soccer chants.
I couldn’t help thinking in the middle of it all, if they can pull it off in Salt Lake City, why can’t we do the same in Las Vegas? We have more people to draw from, a more soccer-centric demographic to market to, and we love our sports. The thought literally gave me goosebumps then, and it still does today.
Fast forward a few years, and here I am with an incredible team of professionals who have assembled to build a plan and a way to hopefully — and finally — bring a major professional sports franchise to our city. Major League Soccer has a single franchise available now, and we are in the running for it. If we miss this opportunity, though, it will be a long time before the next one presents itself.
That’s why we have worked so hard to build a plan that works for everyone, including the city of Las Vegas, MLS, The Cordish Cos. (our development partners), and of course, you, the fans. Yes, our proposal does include the use of public monies to help build what will be an incredible soccer-specific stadium, but consider the gain before the cost. The investment would pay dividends in the form of civic pride, community participation and new and far-reaching youth sports opportunities that will help unite Southern Nevada like never before.
Also consider that it’s a deal that, by many accounts, is better than what has been successfully put to work in other MLS markets — and better than what other cities competing for the very same franchise are proposing.
And finally, consider that, contrary to what you may have read or heard, the plan also includes a method and time line for the majority of the bonds to be repaid. You’ll continue to hear a lot about the costs being shouldered by the city, but please take the time to hear all sides and decide for yourself.
Ultimately, ask yourself, if a stadium can be built that will attract our community’s first major pro sports team, and the financial risk is actually less than what other cities are willing to risk for the same team, isn’t it time we all step up to make this happen, so that we can finally start cheering for our very own home team?
Please visit www.MLS2LV.com for more information and upcoming public events.
Thank you, Las Vegas!
Justin Findlay is managing partner of Findlay Sports &Entertainment.