MLS expansion news peaked with the announcement that Minnesota United FC would join the soccer circuit in 2018, and since then there have been whispers and shrouded comments about the direction of Major League Soccer in coming years, with plenty of meetings in Florida. It’s become very clear the preferred route for MLS is to award the next expansion team to Miami’s David Beckham group, bringing MLS to 24 teams in 2018, which leaves Sacramento in limbo. And while Don Garber says 24 teams isn’t the absolute limit for MLS, there are other cities — like St. Louis, which has gone from nowhere to being a potential league darling — already queuing up for a spot on the league.
Still, Republic FC ownership plugs along: the team has sold out 20 of its 21 USL matches, and a stadium plan of sorts remains active, per the Sacramento Bee:
A group led by Mayor Kevin Johnson and the owners of Sacramento Republic FC have begun studying the regional market appetite for MLS, the economic impact of a new stadium and the feasibility of building a stadium in the downtown railyard. The mayor has said no public subsidies will be available for what could be a $150 million stadium project.
Dubbed “Operation Turnkey,” the group has also begun assembling a team that will put together stadium designs, construction documents and the site’s environmental review. All of Republic FC’s key owners are involved, including lead investor Kevin Nagle, the owners of the San Francisco 49ers and Sacramento Kings, local developer Mark Friedman and Larry Kelley, another developer who is purchasing the 240-acre railyard site.
“We are focused like a laser on bringing MLS to Sacramento and prepared to move forward at a moment’s notice,” the mayor said in an emailed statement.
That’s a pretty powerful ownership group, and it’s no secret MLS would love to bring in more of these high-powered front offices. And Sacramento would seem to meet most of MLS’s other criteria if a stadium deal is indeed possible. For MLS, we’re talking an abundance of riches here: it’s not a bad Plan B to have Sacramento in the wings if a Miami deal isn’t possible.