MLS talks Vegas expansion with Edens and Sawiris

With there being little mystery about Las Vegas becoming MLS’s 30th market, it’s no surprise the league is in exclusive negotiations with Aston Villa owners and sports entrepreneurs Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris.

The pair co-own the Premier League’s Aston Villa, while Edens co-owns the NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks with Marc Lasry. Edens and Sawiris have been successful with the first-division Aston Villa team, and their vision include the MLS team working with Aston Villa. 

MLS currently stands at 27 teams, with Charlotte and St. Louis joining the league in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Adding Las Vegas in 2024 would give Edens and crew time to put together a development and stadium deal; Allegiant Stadium is being discussed as a stop-gap venue option should a new stadium not being completed by then.

For Edens, the play would be a real-estate play as much as a soccer play. Edens’ Fortress Investment Group owns Brightline, which is planning a high-speed light-rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, terminating at Las Vegas Boulevard and Warm Springs Road. Brightline controls the 110-acre site, considered prime real estate at the south end of the Strip, a few miles from McCarren and within easy access of Interstate 15 and the 215 Beltway. It was once coveted by the Oakland A’s as a ballpark site, but the plan now is for Brightline to use it for development and a 65,000-square-foot terminal—as well as potentially a new soccer stadium.

And after that? There will certainly be talk of expansion to 32 teams–a nice number for scheduling. Phoenix and San Diego would continue to be strong contenders once that process starts. One of the five proposals for a new arena includes an MLS stadium just outside the arena area. Besides a new arena, a hotel and the requisite affordable housing, the group is proposing a 12,000-capacity pop-up stadium to be used temporarily while a new 20,000-capacity stadium is built. (That site rendering is at the top of this page.) The pop-up is planned as home to USL Championship’s San Diego Loyal, but you don’t build a 20,000-capacity stadium for USL.

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