Sacramento’s competition for a Major League Soccer expansion team has lost a contender.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber told Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in a letter Thursday that “given the timing of our expansion rollout and the uncertainty as to when we might be able to move forward in Las Vegas, we are no longer considering Las Vegas as an expansion market until after 2018.”
Las Vegas was considered the third-strongest contender for an MLS expansion spot, behind Minneapolis and Sacramento. The Las Vegas City Council had recently approved plans for a $200 million soccer stadium downtown, but the plan to commit over $100 million in public subsidies to the project had faced fierce opposition and is headed for a June ballot measure.
Still, a wealthy ownership group in Las Vegas considered the city’s bid strong, pitching their case to MLS officials at both the league’s MLS Cup in December in Los Angeles and at the All-Star Game in Portland, Ore., in August.
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“I still believe our city would be the perfect location for a major-league team, and I am saddened that we miss out on the opportunity to gain $450 million in downtown investment and job creation,” said Mayor Goodman in a prepared statement. “I hope the MLS will still consider Las Vegas for a team beyond 2018, and that the league’s decision will not be a negative influence on other major-league franchises coming to our city.”
Joe and Gavin Maloof, former owners of the Sacramento Kings, are minority partners in an effort to bring a National Hockey League team to Las Vegas.
MLS officials have not given a precise date for when a decision will be made to award the next expansion franchise, although that decision is expected by the end of June. Minneapolis and Sacramento are competing for one spot. Miami has been tentatively awarded another spot, but the Miami decision hinges on whether an ownership group there can secure plans for a downtown stadium.
MLS executives have also met in recent months with groups in San Antonio and St. Louis.
Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.