Sacramento Regrouping after MLS Decision
Major League Soccer has passed on Sacramento, for now.
Sac Republic FC is coming off a dream season for a team pitching itself as major league caliber. They wracked-up a record-long string of sellout crowds. They brought home the championship trophy in the USL, their current league.
But the ultimate prize- becoming one of two teams added to Major League Soccer in an expansion, today eludes Sac Republic FC.
“I just wanted to say congratulations to Miami and Minnesota,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said in a press conference Tuesday.
MLS announced they are in “advanced talks” with an ownership group in Minneapolis, and Sacramento leaders are expecting a similar announcement for a deal with David Beckham’s ownership group in Miami.
MLS said they’ll make their next announcement within 45 days.
“While yesterday we didn’t get the news we had hoped for, MLS has told us that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when,’” Mayor Johnson said.
So the City of Sacramento and Sac Republic FC’s ownership group is moving forward with planning on a new soccer stadium in Sacramento’s Railyards.
Calling it “Operation Turnkey,” the idea is to get everything in place- the environmental impact reports, the permits, the blue prints- everything the team would need to make its move when MLS next comes calling.
In the meantime, the team has another challenge: to sustain the level of support from fans, and the level of performance from players, that got Major League Soccer’s attention in the first place.
“Winning a championship is what I’m most concerned about. Everything else, from a business standpoint- we have a team here that lines up with any MLS team from an operational standpoint,” said Warren Smith, Sac Republic FC’s Co-founder and President.
Sac Republic FC just sold its 9000th season ticket. That compares to 5,500 last season. So even though the team’s home pitch, Bonney Field, is being expanded to more than 11,000 seats, they’ll have fewer game-by-game tickets for sale.
Leaders of Sac Republic FC and the City of Sacramento acknowledge that deals to put MLS franchises in the other two cities could still falter and fail. If that happens, they say they want Sacramento to be in position to become the newest MLS city.