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Las Vegas inches toward MLS expansion team

City, developers have signed a term sheet that outlines a public-private partnership on building $200 million soccer stadium in downtown.

Courtesy Findlay Sports and Entertainment

The possibility of Major League Soccer being the centerpiece of a redeveloped downtown Las Vegas moved a little closer to becoming a reality on Tuesday when the city and developers signed a term sheet outlining the project. The deal still requires city council approval and would only happen if Las Vegas is awarded a team. While this is a necessary first step, it remains unclear where Las Vegas actually stands in terms of actually acquiring a team.

The term sheet includes $200 million for a soccer-specific stadium that could seat as many as 24,000 fans, about $100 million for expansion fees and roughly $100 million in interest on the bonds issued by the city. The total 30-year cost of the project is estimated at about $410 million, with about 41 percent of that coming from public funding.

The private financing would come through a partnership between Findlay Sports and Entertainment and real-estate developers Cordish Companies. They would also own the team, with the city owning the stadium.

The stadium would be located in a part of downtown called Symphony Park, a 61-acre parcel of land in downtown that is currently owned by the city. It was originally planned that a Major League Baseball stadium would be built there, but those plans never came to fruition.

"The time to bring professional sports to Las Vegas is now," Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said in the press release announcing the agreement.

Coincidentally or not, Las Vegas has also been mentioned as a likely destination for NHL expansion.

Left unanswered in the term sheet is how a suitable cooling system can be built into the stadium at that price point. The original plans had pitched a stadium that would have some sort of roof, but that does not appear to be within the scope of the current plans. Temperatures in Las Vegas are usually over 100 degrees throughout the summer, conditions hardly suitable for playing outdoor soccer or even watching it. Figuring that out would likely be on ownership, as the term sheet says they are on the hook for any cost overruns.

The city council is scheduled to vote on the nonbinding term sheet at a meeting on Sept. 3 and assuming that goes through a binding agreement would be voted on in December.

None of this will happen until Las Vegas actually secures a team, though, and that will likely prove to be the biggest hurdle. MLS has stated that it intends to have 24 teams by 2020, with all but one of those spots currently spoken for. Orlando and New York City FC will become the 20th and 21st franchises next season and Atlanta is scheduled to join in 2017. David Beckham is currently trying to get a downtown stadium built in Miami, which would give the league 23 teams if he's able to secure a site. Las Vegas is competing with the likes of Sacramento, Minnesota, San Antonio and Austin for that 24th team.