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September 16, 2014

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Las Vegas could get pro soccer team, downtown stadium

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An artist’s rendering shows a proposed design for a future Major League Soccer stadium to be located in Symphony Park near the Smith Center. The proposal was announced Wednesday, May 14, 2014, by Findlay Sports and Cordish Companies.

Updated Wednesday, May 14, 2014 | 2:35 p.m.

Las Vegas could be getting a Major League Soccer franchise.

Findlay Sports and Entertainment and The Cordish Companies today announced plans to build a 24,000-seat stadium downtown at Symphony Park. The stadium would be designed specifically for a pro soccer team.

Cordish has been in a development contract with Las Vegas since 2008 to build a stadium at the 61-acre site and negotiate with professional leagues for a team to play there. The park already includes the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

The agreement between Cordish and Las Vegas expires May 31. During the May 21 City Council meeting, the Cordish and Findlay groups plan to ask for an extension and request a change to the proposal to include both organizations.

An official from MLS confirmed discussions to bring a franchise to Las Vegas.

“We recently met with Justin Findlay and Blake Cordish at the MLS League office in New York and were very impressed with their vision to pursue building a new soccer stadium and acquiring an MLS expansion club for Las Vegas,” MLS Deputy Commissioner and President Mark Abbott said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing discussions as they work to further develop their plans with Mayor Goodman and the City of Las Vegas.”

MLS is expanding from 19 to 24 teams — New York, Miami, Orlando and Atlanta have already received new franchises. Justin Findlay, managing partner of Findlay Sports and Entertainment, said Las Vegas is competing with Austin, Texas; Minneapolis, Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio and San Diego for the last franchise. Those projects are significantly ahead in the planning stages, Findlay said.

"It will be a race to see who can put the best package together," Findlay said. “A lot of people are vying for the last spot.”

Findlay officials said the investment in the stadium and team would be in excess of $300 million and was expected to create more than 1,000 construction and permanent jobs. Funding would be a private-public split but, Findlay said, it's too early to put a number how much the city would be asked to contribute.

“We are not settled on the details. I can tell you, it's a better (deal) for the public than most cities,” Findlay said.

Officials from Cordish weren't immediately available for comment.

Attention had long been focused on bringing a NBA or NHL team to the area, an effort Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, have long championed.

“The pieces are starting to fall in line. It’s really, really exciting,” Carolyn Goodman said.

This is a developing story. Check back later for more.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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