Las Vegas wants a Pro Soccer Team

Last month we discussed billionaire William Foley’s mission to bring an NHL franchise to Las Vegas. Now there’s word that Sin City itself is pushing to land a professional soccer team. For years Vegas has been seen as an undesirable place for sports franchises due to its legal sportsbooks and fear of corruption. But now the city is in various discussions revolving around expansion among pro leagues.

Carolyn Goodman, Vegas’ 75-year-old mayor, is one of the biggest activists behind trying to get sports in Vegas. However, she’s opposed by 80-year-old councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, who is working against the building of a $200 million soccer-only stadium. This is bad news for Goodman because Tarkanian, whose husband is former UNLV Runnin’ Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian, heads up the council that must approve public funding for the expensive stadium.

“I’m not mad at her,” Goodman told USA Today regarding her friend Tarkanian. “But I may have to flatten her tires if she doesn’t vote the right way.

We’re the perfect place for people to come and enjoy all the amenities we have, and we’re certainly ready for major league sports. We’ve made so many advances in the medical community and in cultural offerings. Pro sports is the one little piece we haven’t quite gotten the hook around.”

Goodman’s buddy isn’t the only factor standing in the way of an MLS franchise in Vegas. There are other points that must be considered such as who will watch the games. Sin City’s metropolitan population is a healthy 2 million people, however, many of them work night shifts in the gaming and entertainment industry. And since most MLS matches take place at night, this takes away from some of the potential fan base.

Another problem is that Vegas is full of entertainment options. Everything from concerts and magic shows to casinos and world-renowned nightclubs dot the Vegas Strip. So the MLS – or any other sports organization – must compete against the revolving number of entertainment options that Vegas residents and visitors have.

However, Sin City does have somewhat of a successful track record with pro sports. They’ve hosted the NBA Summer League for years, and with great results. “While we have no plans to expand, Las Vegas continues to be a great host for our summer league,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

But does good attendance at a limited number of summer league basketball games equate to long-term success for a pro sports franchise? This will be an important question looming over the MLS and NHL’s collective heads.