Sacramento’s long wait to be awarded a Major League Soccer expansion place appears to be coming to an end.
According to the Sacramento Bee, representatives from United Soccer League team Sacramento Republic FC and MLS have agreed to the framework of a deal that would bring an MLS team to the California city in 2022.
If the deal is completed, Sacramento would become MLS’s 29th team, following quickly in the footsteps of St. Louis, which was awarded an MLS franchise a few weeks ago.
In 2015, MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “I believe that Sacramento belongs in MLS. And when we are able to bring them in, they will be very successful.”
Since then, however, Sacramento has lost out to the likes of Austin, Cincinnati, Nashville and St. Louis for spots within MLS. Meanwhile, franchise expansion fees in the league have risen from $150m to $200m in this time frame.
The key issues for surrounding a MLS bid for Sacramento – namely securing richer investors and having a solid stadium plan – appear to have been finally resolved this year.
Sacramento Republic FC secured city council backing to fund a new $252m sports and entertainment district at the downtown railyards, which would include a new stadium seating roughly 20,000 people. Meanwhile, billionaire financier Ron Burkle agreed to buy a controlling interest of the team to help pay for the move to MLS.
“While the deal is not finalized, we are working hard and I’ve never been more confident that we will bring (MLS to Sacramento),” Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted on Friday.
A Charlotte bid, funded by David Tepper, billionaire owner of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers, is considered the favorite to land MLS’s 30th expansion place.
Meanwhile, it was revealed over the weekend that outgoing US Soccer Chief Executive Officer Dan Flynn will take up a formal role at the St. Louis expansion team.