With new lead investor Ron Burkle potentially boosting the club’s MLS expansion hopes, Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg is pitching an incentive package for a proposed Sacramento Republic FC stadium.
This week, it was announced that the billionaire Burkle has purchased the controlling interest in USL Championship‘s Republic. With that transaction, Sacramento added what had been an important, but elusive, piece to its pitch to MLS, as the need for a deep-pocketed lead investor had been made clear by league officials since the latest round of expansion began.
Burkle joins an effort that already has a facility plan, as a new Sacramento Republic FC stadium has been floated as part of a larger development at the downtown railyard. Seeking to push that plan along, Steinberg is proposing an incentive package for the club’s ownership. The plan, which the mayor is expected to put before the city council next month, would be directed at a variety of areas–including infrastructure financing at the stadium site, development fee waivers, new electronic billboard advertising rights, and potentially a youth soccer complex that includes MLS training space. More from the Sacramento Bee:
Darrell Steinberg said he plans to ask City Council colleagues next month to approve financial incentives for the Republic FC ownership group – including infrastructure financing at the planned soccer stadium site – as part of his push to bring an expansion franchise to Sacramento.
Unlike the controversial Golden 1 Center arena construction deal with the Sacramento Kings basketball team, though, the mayor said the city will not hand over millions of dollars in cash to the team, or use its general fund as a financing backstop.
“The City will not write a check, and it will not bear any liability or risk,” Steinberg said in his State of the Downtown speech at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Tuesday.
Instead, Steinberg said he would like to see the city offer Republic FC the rights to new electronic billboard advertising and development fee waivers, as well as creative financing to build streets and other infrastructure around the proposed stadium site. The mayor also floated the idea of the city paying for the construction of a youth soccer complex that would double as a training facility for the soccer team.
Burkle’s addition bolstered an already solid bid, but it remains to be seen when MLS will announce plans for its 28th team. In addition to Sacramento, there are a few other solid contenders in a crowded expansion field, including Phoenix and St. Louis.
MLS announced Austin FC as its 27th team earlier this month. Nashville, Miami, and Cincinnati have also all been announced as an upcoming expansion squads by MLS, which is expected to jump from 24 teams in 2019 to 27 by 2021.
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