With Mayor Kevin Johnson saying that MLS expansion is a matter of when, not if, Sacramento Republic FC owners and fans are wondering if their city will next to land a team.
Yesterday’s announcement that a Minneapolis group landed the 23rd MLS franchise, with a 2018 launch date, only heightened the feeling in California’s capital that MLS expansion should be happening in Sacramento as well. The city and Republic FC owners have done all MLS has asked: a series of sellouts last season in two venues proved there was a fan base for pro soccer, and the front office added some heavy hitters from the San Francisco 49ers and and Sacramento Kings ownership suites. Add in plans for a new soccer-specific stadium, and it would appear the checklist is completed.
Sacramento wasn’t mentioned at yesterday’s Minnesota press event, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in and of itself. From the Sacramento Bee:
For the time being, city officials and executives with Sacramento Republic FC, the popular minor-league franchise, are focusing on fine-tuning plans for a new MLS stadium at the downtown railyard. The privately financed stadium, expected to cost around $150 million, would be built only if Sacramento is granted an MLS team.
Garber said over the weekend that he’s confident the league can expand beyond 24 teams, although it will take several months for MLS officials to decide how quickly the next round of expansion would take place.
The wild card here is Miami, where David Beckham and crew have been working on a new stadium plan for months. Beckham and MLS Commissioner Don Garber have been hinting in recent weeks that we can expect some sort of Miami stadium news soon. Beckham has an option on an MLS expansion team as part of his last playing contract, and while Sacramento would be a nice addition to MLS, a Beckham team in Miami would add glitz and sizzle to the circuit internationally. So while Sacramento may be a lock for an MLS expansion team, it remains to be seen whether Sacramento will be the 24th team — or Miami.