Could AEG be key to Vegas MLS hopes?

MLSDespite not being directly involved in a new-stadium effort, sports giant AEG could be a key player in keeping Las Vegas MLS hopes alive.

Many MLS observers were surprised when a Las Vegas contingent — including Mayor Carolyn Goldman and reps from Cordish Cos. and Findlay Sports — were invited to meet with league officials along with groups from Minnesota and Sacramento, where there are more well-established groups pitching for an expansion team.

But there are some definite ties between AEG and MLS, as well as between AEG and Las Vegas. AEG’s Philip Anschutz is a key backer of MLS and kept the league alive during some really lean times. He’s owned at least four teams and the league’s championship trophy is named for him.

His firm, AEG, is now a major player in the Vegas sports scene after committing to building a privately financed arena on the strip. And, at least publicly, AEG is supporting the Vegas bid for MLS:

AEG CEO Dan Beckerman sits on the MLS and NHL boards on behalf of the Galaxy and Kings, respectively.

In a Review-Journal interview last week, Beckerman said he is bullish on prospective MLS and NHL teams in the Las Vegas market.

“Las Vegas is a tremendous market. The community there wants and deserves professional sports. Both MLS and NHL would be successful,” Beckerman said. He noted his comments are as an AEG representative on the MLS and NHL boards and do not represent the leagues’ official sentiments.

Despite some setbacks, the Findlay/Cordish group is still lobbying Vegas for a $20-$25-million subsidy for a new downtown soccer stadium — an effort that surely would be boosted if the group was awarded a provisional expansion franchise.

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August Publications