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Las Vegas’ chances slim for MLS’ 30th team, source says

MLS commissioner Don Garber said Las Vegas was a candidate for the league’s 30th team, but all indications are the city’s hope for a first division soccer team are slim.

The league announced Thursday it was expanding to 30 teams, two more than planned. With Sacramento and St. Louis expected to receive the 28th and 29th franchises in the coming months, a 30th team is available.

“Of late, we have been in very positive discussions in Las Vegas and in Charlotte,” Garber said. “We still believe Phoenix is a good market. We’ve been in discussions in Detroit. … So what we really need to determine is what it all means for our league 10 years from now or 20 years from now.”

However, a Las Vegas soccer source said those discussions have been with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and about MLS exhibition matches in the city. The mayor was unavailable for comment Friday.

Lights FC president Brett Lashbrook, a former assistant to Garber, said Friday he has not talked with the league about an expansion franchise, but he is proud that his United Soccer League team is gaining attention in its second season.

“We have shown we are a soccer city,” said Lashbrook, whose team is averaging 8,308 fans per game at Cashman Field. “I’m really happy we have gotten the attention of MLS and shown we are growing the sport in this market.”

Numerous reports this week said the leading candidates for the 30th franchise are Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix and San Diego — all of which have plans for either a soccer-only venue or have access to an NFL stadium.

Las Vegas was a candidate for the 24th MLS team in 2015, but a push for a proposed soccer stadium in Symphony Park failed when the league passed on the bid. The MLS gave that franchise to St. Paul, Minnesota.

In 2017, the Las Vegas City Council paid $80,000 to an investment firm in an attempt to lure investors and make an MLS expansion bid.

Bill Bradley is sports editor of the Review-Journal. He can be reached at bbradley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2909. Follow @billbradleyLV on Twitter.

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