MLS Expansion Update: Could Las Vegas be next in line?

Thomas Viola
mls expansion update Las Vegas
Jun 29, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; MLS commissioner Don Garber addresses the media after the ribbon-cutting event at Field Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past several months, the flirtation of MLB’s Oakland Athletics has been at the forefront of the news. Yet, the latest MLS expansion update includes more and more chatter Las Vegas could also land a major league soccer team.

mls expansion update las vegas allegiant stadium
Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium – home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, could be the home of the MLS’ 30th team if the league expands to the city. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Since the arrival and rapid rise in popularity of the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League, Las Vegas has been seen as the next big major league sports town. Every major sports league in the country is eyeing Las Vegas and Nevada as a possible destination. The NFL’s Raiders arrived a year ago, and the NBA and MLB have long had rumors swirling about franchises either moving to or expanding here. Now, it appears Major League Soccer is also eyeing the desert as the possible site of its next franchise. 

MLS expansion update: Big money makes Las Vegas a better possibility reported yesterday, in a comprehensive MLS expansion update, that Las Vegas has jumped Sacramento as the top spot to be home to MLS’s 30th franchise. A new bid has emerged, backed by Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens, to create a new expansion team that would play inside the Raiders Allegiant Stadium. 

Edens, also a co-owner of Premier League side Aston Villa, isn’t the only multi-millionaire interested in bringing soccer to the desert. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is also heading a separate group that is also intent on bringing an MLS team into Allegiant Stadium. A third group, headed by Renaissance Companies, is also interested in bringing an MLS team to Cashman Field, the current home of the Las Vegas Lights USL team, but their exclusive negotiation rights with the city of Las Vegas expired in April, and that plan appears to have stalled out, at least for now. 

Major League Soccer, in the last official MLS expansion update, had previously announced that Sacramento would be the next city to join the league, the plan being for the USL’s Sacramento Republic to enter as the league’s 30th team. The Republic boasts a strong fanbase, significantly larger than that of the Lights, and had been rumored for what seemed like an eternity to make the leap. However, after being awarded expansion rights, the bid’s principal owner pulled out of the agreement, leaving the Republic short on the required funds to pay the fee, and opening the door for either Phoenix or Vegas to take the spot. 

Phoenix Rising has a similar case to that of the Republic – a strong fanbase and a history of success at the USL level. However when it comes to MLS, money often talks, and Edens and Foley have the cash to make an investment in a team that MLS Commissioner Don Garber likes to see. That’s why this latest MLS expansion update has more teeth and Las Vegas looking more and more like a serious possibility.

Edens especially fits the profile, as an owner with a history of success in other sports and in soccer, and a willingness to push boundaries and find new ways to create revenue for the franchise. An MLS expansion to Vegas once felt like a far-off pipe dream, but like when Mo Green first looked out on the empty desert and decided to build a city there, it seems like it could very well become a reality soon.

While it would be preferred for a new MLS team to have a smaller, more intimate stadium, much like Cincinnati FC’s new TQL Stadium, getting the team into Allegiant Stadium for the first few seasons could mean a faster start.

Make sure to keep checking back as we regularly give you the latest MLS expansion update and the latest on professional soccer coming to the valley.