Recent rumblings have Las Vegas entering the picture as a prospective Major League Soccer expansion site. The only problems: Who would pay, and where would they play?
Vegas is the only place in the world "Who would pay" can be credulously answered with "Somebody." And that could end the conversation. The place is a monument to irrationality built by gangsters in the middle of one of the world's worst deserts. And people find it hard to believe somebody would pony-up the money for an MLS team? Steve Wynn eats expansion fees and white tiger steaks for breakfast.
Where a team would play, however, was another question entirely. While it may be a question of "if you build it, they will come," who's going to build it? Where? And why a soccer stadium when the Real World/Road Rules Challenge is still looking for a permanent venue?
Perhaps one of these three Jetsonian structures is the RR/RW coliseum. Another is for Major League Soccer. The third? Thunderdome.
The images are courtesy of the Las Vegas National Sports Center, and as Erik Malinowski put it at Playbook, it's a matter of when, not if, these venues attract professional sports.
According to the story, the three venues will cost just short of $1.6 billion, be financed by a group of investors headed by somebody named Chris Milan, and sit at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 15, the latter being that road out of SoCal where everybody's supposed to look the other way when NBA players drive 140 through the Mojave desert.
So what, exactly, are these venues for? It seems investors are trying to generally solicit professional sports, and while their pipe dream would have the National Football League occupy one of the venues, good luck convincing the NFL that they need Vegas. The more realistic options, prospective tenants the developers name in their plans, are the National Basketball Association, a AAA baseball team, and Major League Soccer.
Even if Vegas built this venue, found somebody to run the team, and paid Major League Soccer their expansion fee, there's still the problem of making the franchise economically viable. Solution: Argentina versus Portugal, with Messi and Ronaldo's faces projected on the side of the Bellagio; Pele versus Maradona, one-on-one, each icon seated inside giant robots created by Omni Consumer Products; Eric Cantona versus Matthew Simmons, the octagon erected at the center circle.
But the question remains: Even if the venue was built and the team bought, how do you get the transient gambling addicts from the strip to the stadium while stopping short of putting a brass pole and Texas Hold 'Em tables in each section?
It would be nice to get to the point where that's the biggest obstacle. If these developers are serious - and Las Vegas doesn't suddenly develop rational thought processes concerning their spending - marketing may soon be the biggest concern. Thankfully.