After seeing several key pieces fall into place in recent months, Sacramento MLS expansion bid boosters are eagerly awaiting the league’s decision.
In March, MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated that St. Louis and Sacramento are the two front-runners for the league’s 28th team, but did not give a firm timeline for when a decision could be made. However, the news came at a point where Sacramento was looking to build momentum after billionaire supermarket magnate Ron Burkle was announced as a new lead investor in January.
Steps have also been taken to bolster plans for a $252 million privately financed stadium in the city’s downtown railyards development, with the Sacramento City Council recently voting to approve a $33 million incentive package for the plan. For Sacramento, the decision is intended to help facilitate an arrangement that will not only see an MLS club at a new stadium, but also new development surrounding the facility.
Sacramento has been an intriguing expansion candidate for years–thanks in no small part to Sacramento Republic FC‘s success in Division II USL–and optimism that the vision behind the MLS expansion bid will come to fruition is growing. More from the Sacramento Republic:
Sacramento has a billionaire owner at the ready in Southern California supermarket magnate, Ron Burkle. Sacramento has a stadium site ready to develop at the old downtown railyards. Sacramento has the full backing of the city, including a city-approved series of rebates and fee waivers valued at $33 million.
Those incentives were offered to Burkle’s group to increase the chances of building a stadium that would act as a catalyst for other development on a piece of land that has sat like a big, ugly swatch of dirt adjacent to Sacramento’s downtown for generations.
Why is this good for Sacramento? Because it signifies that a far-away future of activity, commerce, housing and development on a 244-acre site – one of the biggest urban landfill projects in America – may finally be at hand after decades of talking about it.
Sacramento stands to get a privately-financed development deal in exchange for cutting red tape for its developer partners. It will get a $252-million facility to house Sacramento Republic FC without sacrificing a dime from the city’s general fund. It will be in partnership with Burkle, who has made a fortune buying undervalued assets and developing them into moneymakers.
There are still plenty of questions about when MLS will make and announce a decision for its 28th team. Still, the addition of Burkle as a deep-pocked lead investor filled what had been a glaring void in Sacramento’s case to MLS, and boosters are hoping that his presence and the work done on the stadium plan since his addition will be crucial factors in securing league approval.
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