Listen I would love to see Major League Soccer put a team in Las Vegas, I think it would be great for the city, great for the fans (who doesn't want an away match in Vegas?) and good for the league (a big market that loves soccer), but the news today out of Henderson isn't exactly passing the smell test with me.
There have been a couple of different plans floated to build stadiums in Vegas, there is the Silver State Arena plan, which was to build a NBA stadium on the Strip at the location of the old Wet & Wild just south of the now defunct Sahara hotel and casino. There was a plan to build the "Las Vegas National Sports Complex" near downtown and then a handful of other plans for arenas around Las Vegas (some for soccer, others not).
So while the news today:
A memorandum of understanding was reached on Friday, Feb. 10, by partners International Development Management and China Security & Surveillance Technology with Chinese investment entities to fund construction of the Silver State Arena, part of the planned Las Vegas National Sports Complex in Henderson.
might sound very encouraging, I found a couple of things very interesting.
more after the jump:
First the guy who has been the center of talks about bringing MLS to Las Vegas for over a year is Chris Milam, the CEO of International Development Management who last year bought the Vegas 51's AAA baseball team as part of his plans to build a $1.5 to 2.0 billion dollar sports complex, isn't mentioned by name in the article.
It was his original plans to build this just south of downtown Las Vegas, then across the 1-15 from Mandalay Bay, and most recently in Henderson (and no not out to the East of the strip, but rather further down the strip about 10 miles south of the airport. In January things sounded like they were moving forward with the project but in this most recent article it is calling for a smaller soccer stadium (now just 17,500 seats compared to 25,000 mentioned in January) and no mention of major league soccer. Oh and the budget for this new version of the project is $650 million, less than 1/2 of the proposal just a month ago.
Now I understand that times are still tough, and in Vegas real estate has some of the worst odds in town (in recent years), something just doesn't sit right with this latest news. Now I don't live in Vegas anymore, but I know their history for projects starting and stopping, and this one just has all the signs of just such a project.
I really want a MLS team in Las Vegas as I said, but I just worry that grasping at straws isn't the way for this to start. I hope I am wrong. I want a strong ownership group that will focus on creating a world class venue and a world class experience for soccer fans. A well done venue could become a cornerstone for the USMNT, friendly matches featuring teams from around the world, host to the Club World Cup, a venue for the USA Rugby Sevens, and other world class events. This has the potential to be a huge success, and I will keep my fingers crossed that my gut feeling about the recent news is wrong.
Anyhow given the recent news, I thought I would voice my opinion on the topic.
OFF MY SOAPBOX