The city, Findlay Sports & Entertainment and Cordish Companies reached a tentative agreement on a new Las Vegas MLS stadium, subject to the league awarding an expansion franchise.
The new $410-million project (a figure that includes the costs of bonding, by the way; the actual stadium cost is closer to $200 million) in downtown Las Vegas would be backed partially with public funding, but the exact percentage is up for debate. A press release issued by the city says 59 percent of the cost of the stadium would be privately funded, with the rest would coming from public sources. But the financing side is a little different: the city will be financing more than 75 percent of the cost of the project, with that money repaid by $3.5 million in annual rent from the MLS team. The budget, according to a term sheet released by the city: $302 million project budget: $102 million for the team, $44.25 million from Cordish and Findlay, and $155.75 million from the city, including $114.75 in bonding.
The term sheet said the bonds issued by the city will be repaid from three sources — the private partners paying $3.5 million annually in team rent; the partners contributing annual non-soccer revenue of $500,000 in year one through year 10, and then $1.5 million annually in years 11-30; and the city contributing $3 million a year in room tax revenue distributed to the city from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
The project description is highly unusual for a public-private partnership in one way — the total project cost includes $102 million for the cost of recruiting and acquiring an expansion team from Major League Soccer. MLS wants to expand to 24 teams, but there is only one slot left, and Las Vegas is competing against at least five other cities for the last franchise.
It is a little unusual for a term sheet like this to include the cost of a team as part of a private contribution to the project: that’s a portable asset that won’t yield any financial benefits for the city should it be sold.
The next step: the Las Vegas City Council will review the proposed term sheet at its Sept. 3 meeting. If approved, Findlay and Cordish will have until December to acquire an MLS team; construction and bonding won’t happen until that happens.