Ooh Las Vegas: Now the MLS Is Laying Aces
As the NHL scurries for cover regarding leaks about its specific expansion plans, Major League Soccer has grabbed the spotlight.
More accurately, Las Vegas stayed in it.
Local poobahs inked a term sheet that represents the first formality in building a $410million sports stadium that a future MLS team can call home. And maybe an NHL team. And probably anything else that can not only happen in Vegas but stay in Vegas.
Given the desert heat in southern Nevada, an indoor soccer facility makes sense. How it would be reconfigured to accommodate hockey will be an interesting logistic. The soccer capacity is intended to be 24,000 seats, so contracting the 225-foot width of a pitch to the 85-foot dimension of an NHL rink will likely be a matter of drop between the front rows in each configuration.
But that comes later. There's still some defining to do in the matter of who's paying for what.
The key point, though, is the one made by Dan Patrick. When big money starts rumbling in earnest, stuff's gonna happen.
The NHL is expanding by virtue of the fact it re-aligned itself to accommodate two more teams in the West. It wants major-market, tech-rich Seattle, and sooner rather than later, it will get there. And too many traditional journalists -- like Patrick and the Vancouver Province's Tony Gallagher -- have been around too long to fall for the slapdash loose cannon reports that plague cyberspace.
Meanwhile, wave mega-dosh and display rainmaking power, and the MLS snaps to. The Las Vegas movers and shakers have plenty of both. The question then becomes, can Sin City support a pro franchise, much less two?
The city's work force is split into three shifts on a 24-hour cycle, which could be a consideration when estimating attendance potential and staying power. Research indicates visiting teams' fans would take excursions to watch a game and sample sin, but it's far from conclusive.
The surest indicator as to what will and won't happen, though, is the obvious one. The more private money that goes into the stadium project, the more certain an MLS team will be awarded. Or an NHL team.
Or whatever else that happens in Vegas that would then stay in Vegas.