Sacramento’s MLS expansion delayed due to pandemic

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento will have to wait another year for its Major League Soccer expansion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sacramento Republic FC made the announcement Friday afternoon.

The extra time has allowed the Republic FC to rethink things in terms of what will go into the new stadium at the Railyards. Team investor Matt Alvarez admitted to FOX40 they were getting a bit nervous that they might not be able to deliver the best product because of the shutdown. So, the extra year is a welcomed advantage for the Republic FC.

The team said the overall design of the stadium will not change a lot, most notably the widening of the concourses to allow for better social distancing.

In terms of what the region may look like in the years, the Republic has decided to upgrade the technology inside the new stadium.

“We think that cashless, paperless, however you want to look at it, creates a more sanitary environment,” Alvarez said. “You have people not waiting in lines, rather ordering on their apps, walking up, picking up their food and moving along to their next destination.”

Of course, there will be additional costs to the stadium with the upgrades, it’s just not known yet how much that will be.

The Republic FC will make their MLS debut in 2023.

“Let’s control what we can control and make the most of it,” said Republic FC President and CEO Ben Gumpert. “If it means 2023 is the new year because that’s what happens, again, let’s make the most of it and take the time to do things the right way.”

The good news is another year to join MLS does not necessarily mean a yearlong delay in the construction of the new stadium at the Railyards. Construction at the new site will begin in the fall.

“Time isn’t the worst thing. If it gives us the ability to things that we’ve already been talking about, well, now it’s made even that much more essential, that much more important around investing in technology and how it could be just fluid and react to all these things,” Gumpert told FOX40. 

“Here’s an opportunity to provide an even better experience,” Alvarez said. “Yes, the delay sucks, it’s a bummer for all of us, you can’t get away from that. But with that extra time, we think we’re going to be able to create a better experience, better environment and, hopefully, a better product all the way around.”

Sacramento was officially awarded an MLS expansion in October.

Explore a timeline documenting Sacramento’s journey to the MLS below.

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