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October 21, 2014

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MLS proposal:

Live coverage: Las Vegas City Council debates $200 million soccer stadium

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L.E. Baskow

Soccer fans listen as the Las Vegas City Council receives a presentation on the proposed downtown soccer stadium and votes whether to approve financial terms of the deal on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014.

Las Vegas City Council Votes on Soccer Stadium

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman listens to David Abrams as he addresses the Las Vegas City Council during a presentation on the proposed downtown soccer stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. Launch slideshow »

The Las Vegas City Council voted 4-3 today to delay its vote on a proposal for a $200 million stadium for Major League Soccer until Oct. 1.

The yes votes were Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman and council members Steve Ross, Ricki Barlow and Lois Tarkanian.

The no votes were council members Stavros Anthony, Bob Beers and Bob Coffin.

Even if the proposal passes in October, it faces a challenge in the final vote in December. The proposal will need a five-vote super majority. But if the three council members who were strongly opposed today don't change positions, supporters would fall at least one vote short of the super majority.

What the City Council members said

Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the stadium's biggest support, said: "The time is now, the stars are aligned."

Councilman Ricki Barlow, who called into the meeting, made the motion to delay the vote, saying there's "no risk at all" to giving the developers more time to provide more details.

Councilman Bob Coffin voted against the delay and said: "It’s only through some legal gymnastics that we’re even entertaining this today, why would we add another month to it." He added: "We keep saying we’ll get more information if we keep moving these dates."

CouncilwomanLois Tarkanian said the city is close to a deal but doesn't have a viable financial plan yet. "This proposal has not been well vetted throughout the community," Tarkanian said. She also said she likes Findlay's involvement but added that she is "disappointed" in Cordish.

Councilman Stavros Anthony, who opposes the stadium, said 95 percent of public response he's heard has been against public funding for stadium. "Nothing’s going to change between today and the final document," Anthony said. "It’s still a publicly funded stadium"

What else is new today

Financing: City data compared Las Vegas stadium to six other MLS stadiums. Las Vegas and Kansas City had the highest cost at $200 million. Stadiums in Houston and Orlando cost less than half of the proposed Las Vegas stadium. It's unclear why Las Vegas' costs are higher. City Manager Betsy Fretwell said about Las Vegas' offer to use city bonds to pay part of the project costs: "We feel like we've mitigated a significant amount of that risk." Fretwell also added: "Worst case scenario we’d have to pay the $8 million per year in debt." That's about 2 percent of the city's annual operating budget.

Other events: The proposal predicts 79 events in 2017, the stadium's first year in operation. The events would be a mix of soccer, lacrosse, concerts, community and private events.

Public outreach: Fretwell said she wished the city had more time for an "open and frank dialogue with the community." The city plans to host six public town hall and meetings with casino and business leaders. Councilman Steve Ross posted a poll asking to collect public feedback. MLS supporters did turn out in support today.

Stadium details and ticket sales: The stadium would have 24,000 seats and 34 luxury suites. Justin Findlay, who leads the development team with Cordish Cos., said the team has 5,400 season ticket requests and 21 pledges for suites, including one from the city.

Economic impact: The stadium is projected to produce 1,094 permanent jobs from its operations and 249,000 room nights,

Cordish: A Cordish official said many soccer teams pay $300,000 to $600,000 in rent. The Las Vegas team would pay $3.5 million under this deal. The developer also said the stadium will not have an entertainment district. The company does not want to compete with the downtown entertainment district.

MLS: The city's financial adviser, David Abrams of the Strategic Advisory Group, said MLS business is "thriving." Findlay said MLS commissioners are monitoring the outcome of the council's vote.

Politicians: State Sen. Ruben J. Kihuen said he and his constituents support the proposal. The developers also noticed that Councilman Bob Beers, a skeptic of public funding for sports stadiums, had left his seat.

Business: Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, said he supports the proposal. But a representative from Boyd Gaming said the use of public funding for the stadium is "problematic." The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce tweeted about the project:

Labor: Yvanna Cancela, political director of the Culinary Union, opposes public funding for downtown soccer stadiums.

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