Leading up to its 2018 debut, Las Vegas Lights FC is filling its organization with some experienced leadership.
Lights FC is one of several new clubs that will join the USL in 2018, with the team slated to play its games at Cashman Field. The club is owned by Brett Lashbrook, who served as COO of former USL and current MLS team Orlando City SC before stepping down from that post in 2015.
To help fill out its front office, Lights FC has named Steve Pastorino as the vice president of corporate partnerships. While Pasorino had most recently been serving as the senior director of corporate partnerships for MLB’s Oakland A’s, he has plenty of experience in helping to establish soccer clubs. That includes a stint with the MLS’s Chicago Fire during the club’s formative years, followed by time as the general manager of MLS’s Salt Lake Real.
With their time at the MLS level, both Lashbrook and Pastorino are hoping to draw from their respective experiences to help Lights FC grow. More from The Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“The community and local population wants something to call their own. People in Orlando don’t go to Disney World every weekend just like people in Las Vegas don’t go to the Strip every weekend,” Lashbrook, who resigned as Orlando City SC’s chief operating officer in 2015, said. “That’s something I really learned and embraced in Orlando. They almost had this love-hate relationship with Mickey Mouse.”
Lashbrook and Pastorino hope to shape the Lights with their expansion experience, but they’re also trying to draw from other markets that have had recent soccer success.
Lashbrook pointed to standout USL teams in Sacramento, San Antonio, Louisville and Cincinnati (FC Cincinnati had an average attendance of 21,696 during the 2017 season) as models for how second-division soccer can connect with a city. And if it can work in those places, Lashbrook is confident that he and Pastorino can make it work in Las Vegas.
“This is the exact same blueprint that’s been working across the U.S. and Canada for several years. And it’s been working in smaller cities that are less diverse with less urban-core stadiums,” Lashbrook said. “I think that’s why if you put our experience together, you put where the sport is and how it continues to grow. … It’s why we’re so bullish on why it can work here.”
Lights FC is one of several expansion clubs slated to begin USL play in 2018. The others include Nashville SC, Fresno FC, and a new Gwinnett County, GA team that will be owned and operated by Atlanta United FC.