Top Stories

Prospective ownership group to use name Las Vegas Heroes as MLS expansion race heats up in Sin City

131 Shares

Major League Soccer’s quest to expand has seen Sacramento fade from its previous position as a safe bet, which has opened the door for new contenders, and Las Vegas has taken advantage.

Sin City is gaining momentum as a potential MLS destination, and the recent news that a prospective ownership group had filed a trademark for the name Las Vegas Villains, presumably to be used as part of an MLS expansion bid, generated headlines last week.

There is more than one group trying to bring MLS to Las Vegas though, and sources tell SBI that one of the prominent ownership groups in the race for MLS expansion in Las Vegas has filed for a trademark of the name Las Vegas Heroes.

The Heroes group is led by Bill Foley, owner of the Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL, and Foley revealed back in 2019 that he had been in talks with MLS about an expansion team that would either play at the venue that is now Allegiant Stadium, or a potential new venue in Las Vegas.

“I’m very interested in this and we are working on making it happen,” Foley told the Las Vegas Review-Journal back in 2019. “I think soccer is the new football for many parents who don’t want their children playing (tackle football). I think we could be just as successful with soccer as we have been with hockey. We have all the infrastructure in place to make it very successful.”

In the two years since Foley’s statement, soccer has become more prominent in Las Vegas, with international matches being played in the city, including most recently the Gold Cup final, which was played in front of a sold-out ccrowd at Allegiant Stadium.

“That market, it continues to explode from a population growth perspective,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told ESPN last week. “We’ve seen the success of certainly the [Golden] Knights and big events. We tested a couple of events with the Gold Cup final. The Leagues Cup final will be there. The Gold Cup final sold out in minutes.

“Las Vegas is an interesting market,” Garber said. “We do want to secure our 30th team so that we can have a fully expanded league by the World Cup in 2026, so we’ll continue to focus on that market.”

Foley’s interest in MLS was established before the Villains group emerged more recently as a competitor, but now the two groups will be competing for what could wind up being Major League Soccer’s 30th team.

The Villains group includes billionaires Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris, co-owners of English Premier League club Aston Villa. Edens is also co-owner of recently-crowned NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.

While the Villains group has garnered more publicity in recent weeks and months, the Heroes group is an equally strong contender, which would explain why Garber stopped short of calling the Villains group the frontrunner in the Las Vegas market.

“I wouldn’t say there’s any [leading candidate] at this point,” Garber told ESPN about the competing bids in Vegas. “Wes Eden’s is one of the most respected investors and operators, and clearly a really, really successful sports team owner. I happen to like him a lot personally. We’ve been intrigued by what a possibility could be with him, but it’s way too premature to talk about it anymore than that.”
What is growing increasingly clear is that there is shaping up to be a good battle for MLS expansion in Las Vegas between a group named the Villains and a group named the Heroes.

Comments

  1. I hope Vegas doesn’t get a team. I live in L.A., not far away, am a huge MLS fan, and would *never* go to Vegas for a game.

    Reply
  2. Heroes and Villains. Decent Beach Boys song, I guess. But are these groups really planning on using Allegiant Stadium as an MLS ground? Gotta say based on my experience there at the Gold Cup final, I’m not so convinced this is a good idea. At all. Don’t get me wrong it was a surreal place (other than terrible lines to get in, and don’t even think about using the bathroom if you’re a dude). Unlike the Raiders, any permanent MLS team will not be able to rely on an established fanbase to fly in and fill the house for 8-10 weekends a year. An expansion MLS team will be looking to serve a different group of potential fans altogether, and they won’t be interested in that experience. Gonna need a different stadium or I can’t see this working at all.

    Reply
  3. Ownership group “Heroes” vs Ownership group “Villains” in competition to bring a MLS team to Vegas. Ives does substantial reporting but this is funny as hell to me. Who wants to be a “Hero” in Vegas? …but you can’t trust a Villain either. Lol

    Reply
  4. i wouldn’t be expanding mid-pandemic. you want your teams set up to succeed not thrown to the wolves, capacity restrictions, nervous fans, etc. i’m amazed MLS hasn’t been announcing a bunch of team financial problems. all sorts of euro teams selling players to make ends meet.

    also, with NYCFC still playing in yankee stadium, and it taking years for miami to get a home, don’t let people fudge the stadium plans. vegas in summer in a dome is doable and would attract tourists. who is going to attend an outdoor game in the summer in 110F? you would roast. so they need a lease deal sorted.

    are the raiders not interested? IMO the highest functioning ownership structure of the past few years has been NFL/CFL ownership (Seattle, Atlanta, TFC) where the lease is free and you’re just another income stream to the conglomerate, and they are willing to spend payroll. a stadium lease with a NFL team would be a less competitive concept. i know people love the SSSs but look at which teams are competing regularly for MLS Cup. mostly those 3 with some SKC and Portland. and Portland’s owner wants to compete.

    Reply

Leave a Comment