The headlines surrounding a new $1.4 billion Las Vegas domed stadium will focus on the Oakland Raiders, but David Beckham laid out a tantalizing proposition for soccer fans: the potential of an MLS team taking up occupancy as well.
David Beckham? The dude working to bring MLS to Miami? Why is he talking MLS to Vegas?
Part of Beckham’s business empire involves work with the Sands Corp., the casino giant whose owner, Sheldon Adelson, is pushing for the domed stadium to house the Oakland Raiders, the UNLV football team and other events. Now, we’re not going to get into the complicated world of Las Vegas tourism and how Adelson’s proposal involves diverting money from a competitor, the Las Vegas Convention Center (we’ve written about it several times on our sister site, Football Stadium Digest; check out the archives), but let’s just say it will be an interesting process to get the new domed stadium funded with public money.
So, Beckham is aligned with the Adelson forces. And he used an appearance at a meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee to point out that soccer would be an important part of the programming mix at the new stadium. Plus, a new stadium would be tantalizing to MLS officials, who went through a new-stadium battle on a downtown site, as there is an ownership group already in place. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal (a newspaper, by the way, owned by Adelson and family):
“To bring a great organization like the Raiders is incredible, but it’s bigger than that,” Beckham said. “It’s about the MLS (Major League Soccer) coming here, it’s about bringing in the biggest European teams like Manchester United.”
Tim Leiweke, the former president and chief executive of AEG, took it a step further by telling Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who is part of the committee, that the stadium could bring a MLS franchise to the city. Goodman has long wanted the MLS in Las Vegas.
“Major League Soccer and the mayor know this better than anyone. She’s been pursuing it for a very long time, God bless you,” Leiweke said. “You’ve had one issue here: a stadium. This resolves that issue. And there is a qualified, quantified ownership group that’s prepared to step up and help you chase an MLS franchise.
“You’re not the only one out there. As (MLS) Commissioner (Don) Garber will tell you, there are a lot of cities now chasing those last four franchises. But with your stadium, with this ownership group and with the might and support of the Raiders, you will never have a greater opportunity to have an MLS team.”
So you can throw Vegas into the mix when it comes to discussing MLS expansion at the end of the decade.