Special to the Sun
Published Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | 1:06 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | 3:51 p.m.
The Las Vegas City Council approved a lease agreement today allowing a professional soccer team to play at Cashman Field starting in March 2018.
The agreement was approved on a 7-0 vote.
If granted an expansion team by the United Soccer League, which is anticipated in the coming weeks, Las Vegas would become the 33rd franchise in the league.
Under terms of the lease agreement, Las Vegas Pro Soccer LLC, headed by Brett Lashbrook, would pay an up-front fee of $50,000, and $6,000 per game to play at Cashman Field, as well as covering all expenses to transform the field for soccer and back for baseball.
Because the Las Vegas 51s baseball team is considered the primary tenant, the soccer club would schedule around their games.
“It’s just validating,” Lashbrook said. “It’s validating to everything that we’ve known that this will be. We knew going in we had a good proposal, but you never know in sports, so you don’t want to count it before you get it.”
In a statement, USL President Jake Edwards said the agreement would "open the door to professional soccer at Cashman Field. Las Vegas is a market that has all of the ingredients to be the home to a strong professional soccer club, and one that would fit ideally into the USL's current landscape and future vision."
Mayor Carolyn Goodman has long wanted a professional team in Las Vegas, and many attempts at attracting a Major League Soccer team to the city have fallen short.
“It looks like we are back in the hunt, and you are the most enthusiastic and well-prepared person,” Goodman told Lashbrook. “We’ve been ready for it, and I know everyone on our team has been looking at it for three or four years.”
Lashbrook helped grow the Orlando City USL soccer team into an MLS franchise before coming to Las Vegas.
“The long-term vision is to maintain a professional presence at Cashman Field, and having the USL team here provides a backstop as the 51s determine what they will do in the future,” Councilman Ricki Barlow said. “I couldn’t be more elated at the opportunity that was presented here.”
Barlow was visibly excited, tossing a soccer ball around City Hall and submitting his choice for the team name — the Las Vegas Neons.
“This is an item that I’ve been fighting for for close to five years now,” Barlow said. “Specifically, as a former soccer player for more than 15 years, this is my passion.”
With a playing field secured, Lashbrook is now looking ahead to filling seats and actually putting together a team and staff. Fans can already place a deposit to reserve season tickets for $20 per seat at VegasProSoccer.com.
“We have a lot of positions to fill and really there are two aspects of the staff — the business side and then on the field,” Lashbrook said. “We have to hire a coach that will represent the club in style of play and character.”
Lashbrook said he was in no hurry to hire a coach and may wait for the season to end in October. He wants a coach with a style of play that matches Las Vegas’ flair.
“I feel very, very strongly in playing beautiful, attacking soccer,” Lashbrook said. “I won’t get too involved with player decisions, but I believe you need a team that embraces and reflects the community. And when you think of Las Vegas, it’s a fast, flashy team.”