Las Vegas Sun

October 30, 2014

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Las Vegas sets deadline for financial plan for soccer stadium

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An artist’s rendering shows a proposed design for a future Major League Soccer stadium to be located in Symphony Park near the Smith Center. The proposal was announced Wednesday, May 14, 2014, by Findlay Sports and Cordish Companies.

Updated Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | 4:59 p.m.

The Las Vegas City Council voted 6-1 today to give Findlay Sports and Cordish Cos. until Sept. 1 to come up with a financial plan to build a professional soccer stadium at Symphony Park.

Developers want to lure an expansion Major League Soccer franchise that would play at a stadium built specifically for soccer games in Las Vegas.

Bill Arent, the city's director of economic and urban development, estimated it would cost about $100 million for a team — a cost that would be carried by private investors — and about $200 million to build a stadium, which could include some public funding.

Taxpayer burden was a big question for City Council members.

Councilman Bob Beers cast the lone dissenting vote. He said he didn’t want taxpayers to be saddled with any part of the cost of a new stadium.

Beers estimated taxpayers could be expected pay up to $150 million toward stadium construction, plus another $8 million a year in operating costs.

Though he voted for the deadline for the financial plan, Councilman Stavros Anthony also said he didn't support public financing of the stadium.

Arent said after today’s meeting he didn’t know much public funding would be required for a stadium, but he doubted it would reach $150 million.

In any case, today’s vote doesn’t commit the city to any expenses related to a stadium. If the council approves a financial plan, developers would have until Dec. 1 to come up with a development agreement.

Justin Findlay of Findlay Sports told the council that Major League Soccer wants a team in Las Vegas. “If we present them with the package we talked about, how do you say no to Las Vegas?” he asked?

Cordish has been under contract since 2008 with Las Vegas to develop an arena and coordinate bringing a professional franchise to town. It received an extension in January through May 31.

Today's agreement adds the Findlay group, which was founded this year with the sole purpose of bringing MLS to Las Vegas, to the proposal.

The MLS is expanding from 19 to 24 teams by 2020 — New York, Miami, Orlando and Atlanta have already received new franchises. Las Vegas is competing with Austin, Texas; Minneapolis; Sacramento; San Antonio; and San Diego for the last franchise. The Minneapolis project won't use public money, Beers said.

Sun sports editor Ray Brewer contributed to this report.

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