Sacramento Republic FC Courting Ron Burkle as Investor?

Sacramento Republic FC stadium rendering

As Sacramento Republic FC works to land a major investor for its MLS expansion bid, some are wondering whether billionaire Ron Burkle will fill that role.

Republic FC is working to solicit a major investor, which the club will need if it is to successfully move forward with its expansion bid. The club has reportedly been working over the last several months to land an investor, and some are wondering if Burkle is being recruited as part of the effort to boost the team’s MLS hopes.

In the past, the billionaire was involved in a pair of efforts to purchase the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. He was also spotted sitting courtside at Wednesday’s Kings game with a contingent that included Republic FC Chairman Kevin Nagle, team COO Ben Gumpert, and former Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. While Republic FC declined to comment on the situation, it has prompted some discussion about whether Burkle is being courted by the club. More from The Sacramento Bee:

The sighting immediately sparked speculation that Burkle is among the small group of potential deep-pocketed investors Republic FC is in conversations with as it tries to solidify its bid for a Major League Soccer expansion spot. Republic FC officials declined comment and a spokesman for Burkle could not immediately be reached.

“Not a day goes by when we don’t have multiple conversations with someone intrigued by the opportunity in Sacramento,” Gumpert told reporters earlier this week during a team media luncheon.

Along with CincinnatiDetroit, and Nashville, Sacramento was one of four expansion finalists considered by MLS in December. It was originally anticipated that MLS would select two bids before the end of 2017, but the league ultimately accepted Nashville’s pitch and held off on other decisions regarding expansion.

Republic FC’s bid is viewed as having some distinct advantages–including a strong record of fan support in the USL, and plans for a new downtown stadium–but it has been clear that a major investor is needed to make its MLS standing more viable. FC Cincinnati‘s pitch is running into concerns about its site for a new stadium, as the club has been unsuccessful thus far in its effort to reach an agreement for a spot in the city’s West End, though it has two other options in the mix. Detroit’s pitch, meanwhile, calls for sharing the existing Ford Field with the NFL’s Lions rather than the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium.

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