SACRAMENTO -- The State of Downtown breakfast was held Tuesday morning and provided excitement, promise and a few surprises for the audience.
"Investor and philanthropist Ron Burkle has agreed to become the lead investor in the Sacramento Republic and that together we will make our case, our strong case, for Sacramento to become the next Major League Soccer franchise," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.
Despite an enthusiastic effort last year, the MLS commission passed over Sacramento for a team, basically saying Sacramento’s bid didn’t have enough money behind it. Securing the support of that billionaire investor is crucial, Mayor Steinberg says, to relaunch Sacramento’s hopes for an MLS team.
"Obviously, there are no guarantees but we’ll be talking with the commissioner," Steinberg said. "This is everything he asked for last December."
As the new lead investor, Burkle, who co-owns the Pittsburg Penguins NHL franchise, will take over for Sac Republic CEO Kevin Nagle, who will move to a senior executive role.
"There was no question in my mind, I think in our mind, that Ron Burkle was the one," Nagle said. "So, it was a long process, it was a long diligence process, but Ron always stood above the rest of them."
Burkle’s company also plans to buy the proposed new Republic FC stadium site and 14 surrounding acres at the downtown Railyards.
"It's about catalyzing the development of the entire Railyards," Steinberg said. "It's about building the next DOCO and more in our city. And it is only the beginning."
Another big announcement out of during the breakfast was Kaiser Permanente's plan to build a new medical facility on 18 acres in the Railyards.
Plans for the Railyards now include the Sac Republic stadium, the Kaiser facility, a new Superior Courthouse, a light rail stop and an apartment building.