Major League Soccer plans to add six new teams, again fueling speculation that Las Vegas could be a land another professional sports franchise.
MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, said Thursday the league plans to expand from 24 to 30 teams in coming years. St. Louis and Sacramento, California have been invited to submit formal bids by the league’s board of governors.
“We continue to believe that there are many, many cities across the country that could support an MLS team, with a great stadium and a great fanbase and great local ownership that will invest in the sport in their community,” Garber told reporters following the meeting.
MLS continues to grow across North America. FC Cincinnati is joining this season. Miami and Nashville, Tennessee, are teed up to start next year and Austin, Texas, will come aboard in 2021.
That leaves one spot still up for grabs, and Las Vegas could be an attractive market for Major League Soccer.
Currently, the Las Vegas Lights play in the USL, a minor league, with 36 teams in the US and Canada. The Lights began play at Cashman Field, north of Downtown Las Vegas, in February of 2018. This season, the team took over as Cashman’s sole tenant after the city’s minor league baseball team moved into a new ballpark in Downtown Summerlin.
Las Vegas has tried to court a Major League Soccer expansion franchise since 2015, and Mayor Carolyn Goodman made it a priority. But a potential deal for a new soccer stadium near downtown never materialized.
Brett Lashbrook, owner of the Las Vegas Lights FC, has said on many occasions that he believes if the Lights have success in the USL, it could rekindle interest in bringing the MLS to Las Vegas.
There are no current plans to build a new soccer stadium in Las Vegas. The smallest stadium in MLS is Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, which has a capacity of 18,000. Three MLS teams – Atlanta, Seattle, and New England – share stadiums with their city’s NFL team. New York City FC plays in Yankee Stadium.
It has not been determined when the new teams will join the league. MLS has set an expansion fee of $200 million for the league’s 28th and 29th teams. A fee has not been set for the 30th franchise.