Sacramento Republic FC Approved as MLS Expansion Team

Sacramento Republic FC stadium rendering April 2019

Sacramento Republic FC has officially been approved as an MLS expansion team, with plans announced Monday for a 2022 launch.

Billionaire Ron Burkle will serve as lead investor in the club. He will be joined in the ownership group by a contingent that includes entertainment executive and producer Matt Alavarez, as well as Kevin Nagle, a local business leader who is an investor in the Sacramento Kings and Republic.

At the center of Sacramento’s bid is the plan for a new $300-million, 20,100-seat soccer-specific stadium that will be constructed as part of the downtown Railyards District development project. The stadium is being positioned as the anchor of a slate of amenities that is expected to include a Kaiser Permanente medical campus, housing, retail, theaters, parks, museums, and a hotel.

“Major League Soccer continues to grow throughout North America and we are so proud to welcome Sacramento as our newest team,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a press statement. “For many years, soccer fans in Sacramento have passionately supported Republic FC and shown that the club deserves to be competing at the highest level. Thanks to the determined efforts and commitment of new owners Ron Burkle and Matt Alvarez along with the leadership of Mayor Darren Steinberg, Sacramento will join MLS with a world-class soccer stadium that will transform the sport in California’s capital.”

Sacramento has worked for years to land an MLS expansion team, with the success of Sacramento Republic FC in Division II USL Championship helping to fuel its case. The effort for an MLS expansion team was also in no small part bolstered by the addition of Burkle, who emerged early this year to become the much-needed lead investor behind the bid.

“Sacramento’s selection by Major League Soccer for an expansion team is a victory to be celebrated by everyone in our community,” Burkle said in a press statement. “This has been a true team effort between the amazing soccer fans of the Sacramento region along with Mayor Steinberg and City Council, our partners and corporate leaders. We are proud to be part of the team that Kevin Nagle put together, which is made even stronger by an incredibly committed local ownership group. The relationship between Sacramento and our club already is a special one, and I’m committed to deepening that connection for years to come.” 

“Sacramento is a dynamic city that is perfectly positioned to join and be successful in the fastest-growing professional sports league in the world,” Alvarez said in a press statement. “I have immense respect and appreciation for the Sacramento community and have no doubt that we will bring the most passionate supporters that Major League Soccer has ever seen.” 

MLS competed with 24 teams in 2019, and is set to grow to 29 over the coming seasons. Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC will begin play in 2020, with Austin FC set for a 2021 launch, and St. Louis and Sacramento following in 2022.

“Today’s official announcement of the selection of Sacramento to join Major League Soccer makes this a monumental day in our city’s history,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a press statement. “I want to thank Commissioner Garber and everyone at MLS for believing in Sacramento, and I’m delighted that the faith shown in our city by Ron Burkle and Matt Alvarez has been rewarded. As an MLS franchise, Republic FC and our new soccer stadium will spur additional economic and cultural growth for Sacramento.  This is a breakthrough for our city.”

Sacramento will represent the fourth active MLS team based in California, joining LA Galaxy, Los Angeles FC, and the San Jose Earthquakes.

“The game of soccer is special in my family. I’ve seen up close and personal how the ‘beautiful game’ can bridge diverse populations, build lasting relationships, and create a shared sense of community,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press statement. “With Sacramento Republic FC officially joining the ranks of Major League Soccer, California is now the only state in the nation with four MLS clubs, and I’m excited to watch the Golden State rivalries thrive in the years to come.”

Now that Sacramento has been approved as the league’s 29th team, MLS is set to take a pause before proceeding with plans to add a 30th club. Although it will take time for any plans on team number 30 to come to fruition, there is already a long list of candidates vying for the slot, something we will cover tomorrow with the launch of our latest MLS expansion odds.

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