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Las Vegas Expects Soccer Stadium Deal To Move MLS Pursuit Forward

Friday, February 21, 2020   /   by Ken Couture

Las Vegas Expects Soccer Stadium Deal To Move MLS Pursuit Forward

Las Vegas officials expect a deal to be presented to the City Council on Feb. 19 that would represent “the next step forward” in the city’s pursuit of a Major League Soccer franchise, a city spokesman said Thursday.

The deal would include multiple agreements with the Renaissance Cos. Inc., city spokesman Jace Radke said, including the master development agreement that has been the subject of negotiations for months.

Las Vegas and the Renaissance Cos. began talks in June on the master development agreement for a proposed soccer stadium project. When the 180-day window to reach a deal expired, the deadline was extended to Wednesday.

Now city officials say they anticipate an agreement being reached and put before policymakers next month.

The City Council will consider on Wednesday paying law firm GreenbergTraurig LLP up to $150,000 more to represent the city in drafting legal agreements and transaction documents related to the agreements.

City policymakers authorized paying the firm up to $50,000 in October, which means the total amount in legal fees spent thus far on potential redevelopment at Cashman Field could reach $200,000.

The proposed project includes constructing a stadium and mixed-use development, including residential and retail outlets, on at least 62 acres at the city-owned Cashman Field site just north of downtown.

The master development agreement is expected to spell out the feasibility of certain public financing options through tax credits. Renaissance was expected to present a detailed financing plan during the course of negotiations.

Cashman Field is currently home to Las Vegas Lights FC, which plays in a professional league a tier below the MLS. The Lights would be sold to Baupost Group LLC, a hedge fund managed by billionaire Seth Klarman, and become the city’s MLS expansion team under the plan.

The city and Lights ownership would submit an application to MLS in hopes of securing a new franchise. The league reached 30 clubs when it recently awarded the city of Charlotte an expansion team, but Las Vegas officials remain optimistic about their chances if or when the MLS grows again.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman has long championed bringing an MLS club to the city, although the stadium project deal is not contingent on securing a team. In June, Renaissance Chairman Floyd Kephart said that a scaled-back version of the stadium would be considered if the MLS did not approve the city’s application.

The preliminary proposal for an MLS-caliber stadium calls for a covered roof with a retractable field and 25,000-person seating capacity.

The city of Las Vegas isn’t alone in its pursuit of an MLS expansion franchise for the area: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has said he is also exploring trying to secure a team either in Allegiant Stadium or possibly elsewhere in the valley.

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