A plan to convert the Cashman Field area into a mixed-use development featuring a new Las Vegas MLS stadium is still in the planning phases, with a two-month extension now in effect.
The city had opened negotiations with The Renaissance Companies on a master development plan for the 62-acre 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 the USL Championship Las Vegas Lights team. Cashman Field is the former home to Minor League Baseball in Las Vegas; the city-owned site is just north of downtown Las Vegas. Because of proximity to downtown and freeway access, the site is seen as an attractive redevelopment site by city officials.
The original agreement between the city and The Renaissance Companies called for a 180-day research and negotiating period, which was set to end on December 1. But the two sides agreed on a two-month extension, with the new deadline set for February 5, 2020. City officials say the extension is not a sign that there are issues, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“The extension has no bearing on how the negotiations are going as they are continuing to move forward,” [city spokesman Jace] Radke said.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who has championed the idea of luring an MLS club to the city, said the extension came as a result of scheduling issues amid the holiday season.
“I feel very comfortable that we’re moving in the right direction,” Goodman said this week about a possible deal.
If the city and The Renaissance Companies can agree on a master development plan, Klarman would exercise his option to purchase the Lights and submit an expansion application to MLS. Las Vegas has already been singled out by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, along with Phoenix, as potential team homes should the league expand to 32 teams in the future. The plan would detail development options on the site, which presumably would include an entertainment/gaming district, retail, a resort and the new stadium, along with funding options. This sort of large-scale investment anchored by a soccer stadium is particularly loved by MLS officials and owners; it’s the model used for Allianz Field and a proposed Miami facility.
Klarman is not alone: 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. If MLS efforts fail, there still may be professional soccer at a revamped Cashman Field site, as both sides say they may pursue a new scaled-down stadium there for the Lights.