By DAN KARELL
The idea of an MLS expansion franchise in Las Vegas just came one step closer to fruition.
On Tuesday, the city of Las Vegas, Findlay Sports and Entertainment, and the Cordish Companies released a non-binding term sheet that details how and where a stadium for a potential MLS team would be built. The term sheet claims that it will cost an estimated $410 million for the new stadium, interest on bond payments, and the MLS expansion fee, with the public covering 31 percent of that cost.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to bring Major League Soccer to Las Vegas,” Justin Findlay, managing partner of Findlay Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement. “We’ve been working hard with the city of Las Vegas and the MLS to make this a reality. It will be extremely exciting for us and our community to have its first major professional sports team.”
Findlay, a Las Vegas native and an executive at one of the largest car dealerships in Nevada, founded the sports and entertainment group to secure an MLS expansion team.
Cordish is a national real estate developer specializing in casinos, festival spaces, and commercial revitalization projects such as the Power & Light district in Kansas City, Mo.
The open-air stadium, which would be located in Symphony Park and have a capacity of anywhere between 19,000 and 24,000 seats, is expected to cost an estimated $200 million, with the public contributing 41 percent of the costs associated with its construction.
However, the Las Vegas Review-Journal received a document that states the public will be expected to fund 75 percent of the stadium costs, in addition to infrastructure improvements around the land. This contradicts the claim that 59 percent of the stadium costs will be covered through private sources.
The term sheet will be voted on by Las Vegas City Council at their next meeting on Sept. 3. If approved, no stadium would be built unless MLS awards Las Vegas with an expansion franchise.
In addition, if approved, the Findlay-Cordish partnership would draft a binding agreement to present to City Council in Dec. 2014.
Looking closely at some of the numbers, the deal seems like a solid one for the city, at least in comparison to other stadium deals that have used almost all public money for the construction and renovation of property.
The term sheet claims that the Findlay-Cordish partnership will be responsible for any cost overruns associated with stadium development, the partnership is responsible for operating losses over the first 30 years, and city funds used to repay bonds will come from tourist taxes already in place, ensuring that no new taxes will need to be passed.
It’s interesting to note that a fact-sheet released by the city, Findlay and Cordish, claims the MLS expansion fee will be $100 million, the same amount that it reportedly cost Manchester City and the New York Yankees to buy into MLS to operate New York City FC. Orlando City SC’s expansion fee was reportedly only $70 million.
The fact-sheet also includes four other MLS stadiums that were reportedly publicly funded at higher levels, including the Chicago Fire’s Toyota Park, which was 100 percent publicly funded and has led the surrounding areas into massive debt.
One factor that hasn’t been noted yet is the average summer temperature. While Las Vegas may be nice in the winter, it is be located in the valley of the Mojave Desert. According to the Weather Channel, the average high daily temperature in Las Vegas during the MLS season extends from 71 degrees F in March, to 105 degrees F in July, to 83 degrees F in October.
What do you think of this news? Do you like the idea of MLS coming to Las Vegas? Think the heat would be a problem? Do you see MLS expanding here in the future, even if not by 2020?