The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is leading an effort for an MLS expansion franchise at the upcoming Las Vegas stadium, putting another Sin City pitch in the mix.
Foley has reportedly been in discussions over the last several months about placing an expansion franchise in the Las Vegas stadium that is scheduled to become home of the relocating Oakland Raiders in 2020. His push would be one of two in the mix for a Las Vegas MLS expansion franchise. The other plan, revealed last week, calls for Las Vegas Lights FC owner Brett Lashbrook to sell control of the Lights to a new investment group led by billionaire hedge-fund manager Seth Klarman of the Boston-based Baupost Group. In turn, the new owners and the city would embark on a plan for a new Las Vegas MLS stadium that would anchor a larger redevelopment of the 62-acre Cashman Field site in downtown Las Vegas.
Any MLS team in Las Vegas stadium would be a tenant and have to engage in discussions with the Raiders on revenue streams, but Raiders owner Mark Davis sounds open to the idea. More from the Las Vegas-Review Journal:
“We have 365 days a year to fill in the stadium,” Davis said. “We will be using it for eight (regular-season) dates plus, hopefully, all our playoff games. So that leaves around 353, and then there is (UNLV football).
“Major League Soccer and other events would be at the top of our list to help fill those remaining dates. We are open to listening to anything. We owe that to ourselves and the community.”
When asked if the Raiders and Foley had engaged in talks about an MLS franchise playing in the stadium, Davis said: “I’d prefer not to speak about anyone who has approached us.”
A third source told the Review-Journal that Foley could potentially partner with another party — not the Raiders — on the MLS deal.
There are some notable contrasts in the Las Vegas MLS expansion proposals reportedly taking shape. The Klarman-led pitch fits some of MLS’s traditional preferences more closely, calling for the team to be a primary tenant at a soccer-specific stadium that anchors a larger urban redevelopment project. It would also allow the Lights to follow the path from USL Championship to MLS that has already been taken by other recent MLS expansion bids, including Nashville, Cincinnati and potentially Sacramento. The effort could also take a step forward today, if the Las Vegas City Council approves a 180-day negotiating period with Renaissance Companies to develop a master plan for a mixed-use development on the Cashman site.
Foley, however, has led the Golden Knights to tremendous success since they began NHL play in 2017. Las Vegas stadium will also incorporate technology that allows the Raiders to play on a natural-grass field despite the facility’s fixed-roof environment, something could boost an expansion proposal if it can apply to MLS in addition to NFL. MLS has not traditionally favored its clubs being secondary entities in fixed-roof NFL facilities, the league’s waning enthusiasm for Detroit’s expansion bid after it shifted its stadium plans to Ford Field being one example, but perhaps Foley can work with the Raiders to generate an intriguing pitch.
Rendering courtesy MANICA Architecture.
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