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Brazilian team could join Las Vegas’ MLS pursuit, report says

A report out of Brazil indicated Sunday the soccer giant Flamengo could get involved in Las Vegas’ pursuit of a Major League Soccer franchise, but local officials involved in the deal would not confirm if that was accurate.

The Brazilian newspaper “O Globo,” which is based in Rio de Janeiro, reported the club hopes to have a team in Las Vegas as part of a globalization effort. “O Globo” said Flamengo would get a franchise as part of a real estate development in the Cashman District.

The City of Las Vegas is in exclusive negotiations with the Renaissance Cos. on a master development agreement for a proposed 25,000-seat soccer stadium near downtown at Cashman Center, but officials involved in the talks did not say if Flamengo had entered the picture.

The agreement also calls for residential and retail projects and is viewed as the precursor to efforts to secure a MLS expansion team.

“We have had discussions with several parties, national and international,” said Floyd Kephart, chairman of the Renaissance Cos. “Until there is an agreement with one of these parties that can be publicly reported, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on those discussions.”

Flamengo would not say whether it is participating in the talks, either.

“The Clube de Regatas do Flamengo informs that it has been working to consolidate a project of globalization of the brand,” the team said in a statement. “In due course, we will deal with the issue with responsibility and maximum transparency.”

City officials have been engaged with the Renaissance Cos. since June 2019. The negotiating window was extended in April and currently runs into October. If a deal is struck, Las Vegas Lights owner Brett Lashbrook will sell his United Soccer League Championship franchise to the Baupost Group, a hedge fund led by billionaire Seth Klarman. The group will then work to build a stadium and move the Lights up a tier to MLS.

“We are incredibly supportive of the mayor’s vision of redeveloping downtown,” Lashbrook said. “It’s clear public knowledge that we are in support of the Renaissance/Baupost plan.”

Flamengo, the richest and most popular club in Brazil, would not be the first soccer team to attempt to partner with a MLS franchise if its interest is real.

New York City FC is primary owned by City Football Group, which also controls the Premier League side Manchester City. NYCFC gives Manchester City, the fifth-most valuable soccer team in the world, according to Forbes, a foothold in the U.S.

NYCFC’s light blue home kits look almost identical to Manchester City’s.

The New York Red Bulls are similarly owned by Austrian company Red Bull GmbH. The business owns several soccer teams across the globe, most notably RB Leipzig in Germany’s first division, the Bundesliga. The New York Red Bulls and RB Leipzig have similar white kits and the two teams, along with FC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, have a similar crest.

Flamengo, which is based in Rio de Janeiro, played its first match in 1912 (It won 15-2). The team’s traditional uniform involved a red and white striped shirt with white shorts.

The club has had two mascots in its history. The first, interestingly enough, was cartoon sailor Popeye. He was replaced in 1969 by a vulture.

Flamengo plays its games in the Maracana, which hosted the 2014 World Cup Final. It made almost $170 million in revenue in 2019, according to club financial documents.

Flamengo won its sixth championship in Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, Brazil’s top league, in 2019. The team’s current coach is Domenec Torrent, a former Manchester City assistant and NYCFC coach.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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