Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has all but confirmed Las Vegas will land an expansion team.
During halftime of MLS Cup, Garber once again declared Las Vegas in the lead to land the 30th team in the league.
“Vegas is the frontrunner,” Garber said. “We’re looking at building a stadium right off the strip. Our 30th team is really going to round out expansion in Major League Soccer. So stay tuned, first quarter of 2022 we should be announcing our 30th team.”
This is the second time in a week Garber has mentioned Vegas as the front runner. He did so during his state of the union address prior to MLS Cup.
During that press conference, Garber talked about the potential owner in Vegas, a timeline to announce the team and a timeline to announce a facility.
It sound like MLS to Vegas is all but done.
Here is a rundown on what we know and what we don’t know about MLS in Vegas.
The expected owner of the Las Vegas team is Wes Edens, who owns the Milwaukee Bucks and Aston Villa of the English Premier League.
Front Office Sports reported that Nassef Sawiris will be Edens partner. Sawiris is chairman and part owner of Aston Villa with Edens. Forbes estimates his networth at $8.7 billion.
Edens filed for a trademark on the name Las Vegas Villains, according to the Review Journal. There has been no confirmation that Villains will be the name, but it is the favorite for now.
This is where we have little details. Garber mentioned an announcement on facility plans. But there are a lot of questions.
First, who is paying for it? The Oakland A’s have received no help from Las Vegas or Nevada in landing tax money for a potential ballpark in the valley. Logically, an MLS team would also be rejected for tax help in building a stadium.
Edens and Sawiris could presumably pay for it themselves, but most sports owners in the United States feel entitled to public money to build their stadium.
But if MLS is this close to announcing Vegas, surely there are close to finalized financing plans.
After the financing, the most important question will be location. Garber mentioned the stadium big near the Las Vegas Strip, which does very little to narrow down a location.
But proximity to the Strip does tell us that MLS feels it needs tourism to make this market work. If MLS thought that Las Vegas locals could support the team, they could build it in a suburb like Henderson or Summerlin.
The First Season
Garber said the 30th MLS team will not be ready for the 2023 season. So target 2024 for the first Las Vegas Villains season.
This is likely due to the time needed to build a stadium. If construction starts next year, they will have over two years to build the Villains home.
This also means MLS won’t give Vegas an expansion franchise that has to play in a temporary home, like Allegiant Stadium.
But get ready for a franchise announcement by March.