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November 22, 2014

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Major league soccer commissioner calls legislators, indicates support for arena near Mandalay Bay

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber last week made calls to key Nevada lawmakers about an expansion team for Las Vegas, telling them he is supportive of the concept that needs approval from the Legislature for a taxing district near Mandalay Bay to fund a proposed arena/stadium/ballpark complex.

The move comes on the heels of Texas developer Chris Milam's purchase of the minor league 51s baseball team and his stated intentions to bring major league soccer and an NBA team to Las Vegas. The developments were first reported here

Said Speaker John Oceguera of Garber's call: "He called, made no promises, but said they were interested and liked the project." Garber also called others, including state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford.

Garber talked as recently as two months ago about an expansion team, mentioning Las Vegas as a possible venue

Milam, I'm told, also has hired attorney Key Reid, son of U.S Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This isn't just a move to perhaps bring in the lobbying clout of Democrat Numero Uno in the state. Key Reid is a former college soccer player and played on University of Virginia national championship squads in the '90s. Reid, who also is counsel for the Greenspun Corp. (which owns this newspaper), played in college for Bruce Arena, who now coaches the MLS Los Angeles Galaxy, and has other relationships with league folks. Small world.

Still a long way to go: The bill has to pass -- and that is far from certain, although Garber's calls may help. And then MLS has to agree to site a franchise here. And Milam, who has put down money to buy the 51s, still has to prove he's for real to some people.

But the possibility of another domino falling has to excite anyone who wants pro sports here.

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