Las Vegas is a city that’s based on winning and losing. Right down the Strip you’ll find thousands upon thousands of winners and losers each and every day, trying their luck on the slot machines and table games in the dozens of huge casinos.
But Las Vegas itself has gambled with sport over the last few years, introducing new franchises across the NFL, NHL and WNBA. It was never going to be certain whether stadiums would be full, but they certainly have been and that gamble has sure paid off.
The city has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years despite difficult periods, with the introduction of online casino games like online roulette bringing more people into the city alongside the new found sporting prowess it offers. And it turns out that could be about to get bigger, with Sin City the frontrunners to welcome a new MLS franchise, the 30th to enter the division.
According to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, he’s been impressed by the success of the Vegas Golden Knights and Las Vegas Raiders and it could be enough to give the green light to the city on an MLS team. He said in a State of the League address, “I am just blown away by what’s going on in Las Vegas.”
What Knights (owner) Bill (Foley) has done is remarkable. I think it’s one of the great expansion team launches in the history of professional sports.”
And while Foley isn’t involved in the MLS proposal for Las Vegas, with billionaires Wes Edens and Naseef Sawiris entering negotiations for the team, Edens already has a longstanding relationship with the MLS which would put them at the forefront for that 30th position.
A new stadium has been given the green light, which again only adds to the appeal of seeing a 2023 team in the city, although it’s likely they would have to utilise one of the other major stadiums currently in Vegas, most likely the home of the Raiders.
The whole city is certainly behind the proposal too, with Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft stating, “I have worked with the potential ownership team and have met with MLS Commissioner Garber and I am confident that they can get it done. For Southern Nevada, professional soccer means new investment, jobs and opportunities.”
There are of course some elements that will need to be ironed out, while the cities of Phoenix and San Diego are also not out of the running, with the former backed by former Chelsea star and soccer legend Didier Drogba.
Firstly, there’s uncertainty around what the name of the franchise may be. The “Las Vegas Villains” has been trademarked by Edens and Sawiris, which perhaps tells the full story, although it may get put to the public. That will undoubtedly be something that is sorted sooner rather than later.
But while Phoenix and San Diego will still have an element of hope, Garber’s recent statement on the success of Las Vegas hosting soccer may be seeing that hope fade. He recently said, “As we witnessed at this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup, at Leagues Cup and other marquee soccer matches in Las Vegas throughout the years, the city has a passionate soccer fan base, and we believe it could be a terrific MLS market. We look forward to finalizing our agreement with Wes and Nassef.”
That’s expected in the coming months and all that’s currently happening is the hopeful alignment of deals in order for the city to have another major sports franchise in the city. NBA or MLB next we wonder? We certainly wouldn’t be surprised.