Monday, May 14, 2007

MLS Expansion - Las Vegas Silver Spurs?

With all the recent MLS expansion talk centering around Portland/Seattle, San Jose and St. Louis, one other city has slowly eked it's way into the pool as Las Vegas is looking to land a top league soccer club.

A group called the Las Vegas Sports & Entertainment Group, led by Mark Noorzai, founder of a computer component firm, is committed to making the dream happen by 2010. The spokesperson for the group is Paul Caligiuri, a Hall of Fame soccer player.

Noorzai says the group has many investors and that the group is worth several billion dollars, thus they will not seek any public money to build a proposed stadium. Talking about the stadium, Noorzai says it will be "a high-tech, state-of-the-art stadium with a retractable roof that will be linked with a casino."

Ah, the casino. Gambling is a major reason why no other professional sports team is in the Las Vegas market; however, MLS Commissioner Don Garber does not have such an issue.

Noorzai has been in talks with Garber for three months on bringing a team to sin city and hopes to meet again with him and members of the US Soccer Federation Board of Directors on May 19th. Noorzai also hopes to have more defined information on possible site locations by the end of June.

The idea of bringing a team to Vegas is an interesting one. On one side you have a large population not served by any pro sports team but on the other you have extreme temperatures and a major reliance on tourist industry dollars. The heat could be fixed with an 'indoor' stadium but the tourist issue might be harder to overcome.

Normally, cities where the tourist industry is huge have a large portion of their population working for low wages, thus allowing for limited expenditures on non-essential items. I do not know if this is the case in Vegas, but if it is, that means finding people to purchase season tickets might be difficult.

Some people might worry about the influence of the gamming industry on the team, especially with the leagues low wages, however with so little money changing hands on soccer betting, I don't think it would be a very big target.

Vegas still seems like a bit of an outsider when it comes to the next expansion team, however this group has a lot of money and some good connections, so it might just be closer to reality then I think.

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Anonymous Bob said...

Isn't it like 135 degrees in Vegas in the summer? Will they have to play in a dome?

11:46 AM  
Anonymous J. Michael said...

You said it -- the money will talk in MLS.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, its not quite that hot. BTW, Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities with a population of 591,000 people. I'm pretty sure that most of its population does not work in the casino industry and I knew there are quite a few tech companies in the area

6:10 PM  
Blogger Allen said...

Las Vegas strikes me as also having a growing population of wealthy people who have 2nd homes there. And isn't the season ticket market really about selling those season tickets to corporations?

6:42 PM  
Blogger Lucas said...

I love Vegas, and have family there, but only visit once a year. If there were an MLS team there, I'd go at least 3-4 times a year, and would do my best to convince my sister and brother-in-law (huge sports fans, both, but unfamiliar with soccer) to buy season tix.

The next best thing to getting a team here in Portland would be VEGAS, BABY!

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved to Vegas about 2 years ago and don't work in the gaming industry. Hell, most people I know here don't work in gaming. Speaking from the perspective of an average middle class soccer fan, there is no question that if a MLS team was established here that I would gladly cough up some cash for season tickets.

Las Vegas is growing into a highly diverse city, both economically and culturally. I can't see how MLS could lose with a team in LV. I would bet you would see a hell of a lot more DC United fans come to Las Vegas for a match and make a vacation out of it than say Salt Lake City?

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a Latino, I'm pretty sure there will be people in the stadium no matter what their financial situation is. there's a lot of people from mexico, and as someone said before, it doesn't stop there....population keps growing and growing. it'd be a great idea to bring a soccer team here.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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10:15 PM  

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