We’re down to the wire for a new Las Vegas MLS stadium, as private investors work to put together a financing plan for the $200-million project.
As several cities work to put together financing plans for a new stadium (Sacramento), an expanded facility (San Antonio) or support for a new NFL stadium (Minneapolis), Las Vegas faces some challenges as The Cordish Cos. and Findlay Sports & Entertainment work to fill a $90-million gap in the funding plan — money the pair expected to be provided by the city. And while operating under a very tight deadline of early December, odds are not good we’ll see a plan in time for MLS to decide on an expansion team for the city.
Given the city’s growth and changing demographics, however, officials from the city and Major League Soccer insist that pro soccer can work here. Latinos make up a third of the city’s residents, and nearly half of the population is younger than 35 — both groups that have shown strong support for the sport.
If it is built, the 24,000-seat stadium, complete with high-tech cooling systems to keep players and fans from roasting on 100-degree summer days, would occupy an empty 61-acre lot near the new performing arts center. Boosters say it would not only attract families and new businesses to the area, but also foster hometown pride in a city often defined by its 100,000 daily visitors.
Vegas is a tweener city. Sports teams can’t rely on tourists to succeed, so it will take the locals to support MLS. The core demos are good, and the casinos catering to locals will surely market with the team, but whether there’s enough of a larger corporate base to support MLS is up for debate.