Even with uncertainty over whether MLS will expand again after awarding Charlotte its 30th team, discussions over a Las Vegas MLS stadium proposal at the Cashman Field site will continue.
Las Vegas launched negotiations earlier this year with The Renaissance Companies on a master development plan for the 62-acre Cashman Field site on the edge of downtown Las Vegas, anchored by a 25,000-capacity retractable-roof MLS stadium. The stadium development would be led by billionaire hedge-fund manager Seth Klarman of the Boston-based Baupost Group, who has an option to buy USL Championship’s Las Vegas Lights. Cashman Field, the Lights’ current venue and former home to Minor League Baseball in Las Vegas, sits on a site that is seen by city officials as ripe for redevelopment because of its proximity to downtown and freeway access.
Initially, the two sides were locked into a 180-day negotiating period that was to end December 1, but they opted to extend that deadline to February 5, 2020. The extension was decided before MLS announced this week that it had awarded its 30th team to Charlotte, with the club to begin play in 2021. Despite plans in Charlotte moving forward, Las Vegas officials say discussions over the Cashman Field proposal will continue, with city leaders striking a positive tone about the current state of negotiations. More from News3Lv.com:
“The city remains in negotiations with the Renaissance Companies to build a new MLS stadium at the Cashman site and bring an MLS franchise to Las Vegas,” a city spokesman said in a statement Wednesday.
Under the proposal, developer Renaissance Companies would present its design and plan for funding the construction, which would then require approval from Las Vegas City Council.
The negotiating window for the stadium proposal, originally set for 180 days, was extended into February, according to the city, and Mayor Carolyn Goodman has characterized talks as positive and moving forward.
There is uncertainty about whether MLS will proceed with future expansion, as commissioner Don Garber told ESPN this week that Charlotte “is likely the last expansion team in Major League Soccer.” That said, it does not seem inconceivable that MLS could begin planning further expansion at some point, especially if progress can be made in the Cashman Field discussions. The Lights have posted strong attendance numbers playing out of Cashman Field, and the proposal to remake the site reflects the stadium/mixed-use development model that MLS owners and officials love. In theory, there could also be another bid that strengthens the case for a 32-team MLS, with Phoenix among the strongest bids outside of Las Vegas.
It should also be noted that the Cashman Field proposal is not the only concept that has been floated for MLS in Las Vegas, as Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is leading an effort for an MLS expansion franchise at the upcoming Allegiant Stadium, scheduled to become home of the relocating Oakland Raiders in 2020. It’s not clear how MLS would react to this arrangement, as generally the league is not thrilled with its teams being a secondary tenant in an NFL facility.