Sacramento MLS Expansion Backers Working to Finalize Deal

Sacramento Republic FC stadium rendering April 2019-2

While official MLS approval has yet to come, Sacramento MLS expansion backers are confident they will finalize plans to join the league.

With MLS working to settle on future expansion teams, Sacramento has been viewed as a top contender. Billionaire Ron Burkle is serving as lead investor in the effort, while the expansion group and city officials have made progress on plans for a new stadium as part of the larger downtown railyards development (rendering above). Another point in the market’s favor in the success of Sacramento Republic FC, which has traditionally been among the top-drawing teams in Division II USL Championship.

It was anticipated that Sacramento’s bid could be accepted this week, but MLS commissioner Don Garber confirmed earlier this week that that would not be the case. The bids still has some details to resolve, a complex process given the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to launch an MLS club. Sacramento backers, however, continue to work on their plan and believe they are still in a good position to get their bid to the finish line. More from the Sacramento Bee:

Ben Gumpert, Republic FC president, said Wednesday there are no hang-ups. Instead, he said the deal, which will cost the private investor group more than a half-billion dollars, is complex and takes time.

“It’s a complicated process,” Gumpert said. “Every day is a step forward. We’re 100 percent committed to making it happen. We are in a good spot.”

[Sacramento Mayor Darrell] Steinberg acknowledged the difficulty of the ongoing talks, but said he is “not concerned at all” by the lack of a resolution.

“All the hard work and worry will be well worth it for our city and region,” Steinberg said in a text to The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday. “Everyone is stepping up. All the anticipation will make the end result even sweeter.”

MLS has not revealed a timeline for when it could finalize its next expansion decision. The league is set to grow to 27 teams over the coming years with the additions of Nashville and Miami in 2020, followed by Austin in 2021.

Sacramento and St. Louis have been viewed as the front runners for spots 28 and 29. MLS has already indicated it will expand to 30 teams, and there could be enough strong bids in the mix to make the case for a 32-team league.

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