City approves $27M loan for infrastructure projects around MLS stadium

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to loan the Republic FC $27.2 million for infrastructure projects surrounding the planned Major League Soccer stadium in the downtown Railyards.

"Always been a huge opportunity for many decades and to see that another step closer is huge," said Republic FC President and COO Ben Gumpert.

The agreement means the city could loan Republic FC up to $27.2 million for things like sewer lines and street lights surrounding the stadium.

"It's a partner on infrastructure, on roads, on sewage, on drainage, on utility connections," Gumpert said.

But government watchdog groups say it's not a good deal for taxpayers.

"They’re going to tap the city’s self-insurance fund," Eye On Sacramento President Craig Powell said. "Well, that’s the fund that covers the city in case of lawsuits. There’s been no showing whatsoever that there’s surplus funds in there that would allow that to be tapped without a risk to city liabilities."

Powell said the city’s investments in the Golden 1 Center already did not generate revenues originally projected.

He believes the MLS stadium will similarly underperform and that infrastructure money could be better spent elsewhere.

"So oftentimes, we see public officials fund these shiny, bright, new projects where they're gonna have grand openings and the like," Powell said. "But they tend to neglect the things that aren't sexy, that don't draw the attention, city infrastructure, the condition of our streets, the condition of our parks. But these are the things that hit people where they live and not the stadium."

But city and Republic FC leaders disagree.

"This is exactly the catalyst we need as a city to continue to broaden this development," Gumpert said.

And at Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for support behind a National Women's Soccer League team.

"We are all currently working on it together and, personally, if and when we are collectively successful, it is something I believe will truly be another game-changer for Sacramento," he said.

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Correction: A previous version of this story improperly attributed Ben Gumpert's quotes to Republic FC General Manager Todd Dunivant.

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