Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A low-level professional soccer team is setting up shop in Las Vegas, with dreams of turning this into a soccer town and eventually landing a big-time franchise.
Now stop us if you’ve heard this one before: This time, it might actually work.
Last month, the United Soccer League quietly announced that the Las Vegas Mobsters—of course, the Mobsters—will begin play in the 64-team Premier Development League this spring. The Premier Development League (PDL) is at the fourth level of what’s known as the American soccer pyramid (Major League Soccer sits at the top), and its rosters are composed of college and amateur players (think talent level along the lines of Double-A baseball).
Starting in May, the Mobsters—who are co-owned by Las Vegas attorneys Martin Melendrez and Geoffrey Hawkins—will compete in the PDL’s Western Conference, playing a 14-game regional schedule, with all home matches under the lights at Peter Johann Field, UNLV’s 2,500-seat soccer venue. Hawkins, who pulls double duty as the Mobsters’ general manager, says the goal is to slowly climb that soccer pyramid and eventually attract an MLS franchise to a 5,000- to 7,500-seat Downtown stadium.
Before you snicker—remembering past failed outdoor and indoor soccer clubs such as the Las Vegas Quicksilvers and Las Vegas Dustdevils—Hawkins is quick to mention the thousands of youth soccer players in the Valley; the growing number of adult leagues; and the Valley’s vast Hispanic population, for whom soccer is a passion. Indeed, exhibition matches involving both MLS and international clubs have attracted big crowds to Sam Boyd Stadium in recent years. Also, the Las Vegas Legends—who not-so-ironically have mobsters prominently depicted in their logo—just kicked off their second season in the Professional Arena Soccer League, playing home games at the Orleans Arena.
Meanwhile, despite scant publicity so far, the Mobsters—who will hold open tryouts December 20-21—are already developing a fan base. “We just launched our online stuff seven days ago, and we already have 1,200 followers,” Hawkins says. “I’m getting constant inquiries about season tickets and apparel; I’m having trouble keeping up with the demand. The response has been beyond my expectations.”
Visit LVMobsters.com for upcoming tickets, schedule and tryout information.