Cordish had been working with the city on an arena and associated development in an attempt to lure an NBA or NHL team to downtown Las Vegas. But with no clear funding plan and a new privately financed, $375-million arena from AEG and MGM Resorts International underway on the Strip, it became clear to many that a new publicly financed arena would be a long shot, even in a city where long shots are sentimental favorites.
So Cordish changed course and came up with a plan for a new Las Vegas MLS stadium instead, and already has a partner: Findlay Sports & Entertainment. The pair would finance a 24,000-seat stadium and acquire an MLS franchise; the city would own the $300 million stadium and benefit from associated development at Symphony Place. The development deal with the city for a new arena was set to expire June 1, but Cordish is asking the city for a September 1 extension to work out the new Las Vegas MLS stadium plan.
There doesn’t appear to be any problem with giving Cordish and Findlay more time to work on the specifics — except for the cost. The businesses want $250,000 from the city to cover planning costs. Already, Cordish has collected more than $1.3 million from the city for the failed arena plan, as well as $2.5 million to shift its location from the old City Hall, which became the headquarters of online retailer Zappos, to Symphony Park. And taxpayers are spending millions of dollars per year on interest on Symphony Park debt for land that sits undeveloped….
Then there’s the question of whether a downtown soccer stadium would hurt the prospects of a proposed on-campus stadium at UNLV, which has some buy-in from the casino industry and likely would be suitable for an MLS team and other soccer games if it’s built. The answer: probably. But there’s no guarantee a UNLV project would attract the kind of private funding Cordish and Findlay might be able to deliver. And both projects almost certainly would need a public funding component to be built. The valley desperately needs a versatile new stadium to replace the outdated, remote Sam Boyd Stadium, one capable of filling dozens of dates on the calendar and delivering a powerful, job-creating economic impact.