Earlier this year, Las Vegas' first professional soccer team hit the field with high hopes and expectations. 

The Las Vegas Lights began play at Cashman Field in the spring in the USL, one level below Major League Soccer. 

With one season under their belt, were expectations met? 

And what will the next season bring? 

"Overall -- hands down - a success," Brett Lashbrook, the team's owner and CEO, told State of Nevada.

Lashbrook said there are two ways to look at the success of the club: on the field and off the field.

"Off the field, I couldn't be more proud of our success and the foundation we have built," he said.

Lashbrook pointed to attendance, which averaged 7,000 fans a game, and the community support as proof the Lights have found a home in Las Vegas.

However, he did admit, going forward, the on-field product needs to be improved.

"On the field, you know not everyone can be the Golden Knights," he said.

One of the ways he hopes to improve the on-field product is through a new coach. Eric Wynalda joined the team in October.

"What I like most about Eric is two things," Lashbrook explained. "One: he lived in Las Vegas for 11 years. He knows this community. He loves this community. He wants to be a part of this community. And two: He's not just bilingual. He's trilingual. I continue to believe that for us to fully tap into the success, we have to reach out to all diverse markets."

Support comes from

Lashbrook said he didn't really have to sell Wynalda on coming to Las Vegas. He said the former soccer superstar wanted to come here and build the program.

While the product on the field is now in the hands of a new coach, the off-the-field product raised a few eyebrows. 

The Lights have a sponsorship deal with a marijuana dispensary and they have had several promotional events that push the limits of traditional soccer, including dropping money from a helicopter.

Lashbrook makes no apologies for the efforts he and his team have made to make their mark.

"This sport is fun. We are entertainers," Lashbrook said. "This is Saturday night in downtown Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. We're competing against everything that is going on in this city."

However, Lashbrook was clear that he would never do anything to interfere with the integrity of the game. 

"The only line in my mind is whatever the law is and two, competitive integrity," he said.

Now that the Las Vegas 51s are moving out of Cashman Field and the Lights will be the primary tenants, they could do even more to make a night at the soccer game fun. 

Lashbrook said when they started the team from nothing they knew there was a lot of signs pointing to success, including the popularity of youth soccer, the diversity of the city, the price point of the tickets, and the fact that Las Vegas is one of the largest cities in the world without a soccer team.

However, he believes many people in Las Vegas didn't think it work out as well as it did.

"I think a lot of people underestimated what we could do -- and what the sport of soccer could do -- in 2018, in a community like Las Vegas," he said.

With one year under their belt, Lashbrook says the Las Vegas Lights FC are just getting started. 


Brett Lashbrook, owner and CEO, Las Vegas Lights FC

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