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Update: Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber says discussions on Sacramento and St. Louis’ expansion bids can move forward. Both cities will need to create formal presentations for the Expansion Committee. The Board of Governors decided to expand to 30 teams in the upcoming years and MLS says it will be selecting two teams in the coming months. Republic FC released the following statement in response to the announcement:
Today is a monumental step in the process and we are closer than ever to reaching our goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Sacramento. There isn’t a better fit for MLS than our city and today’s announcement is a testament to the strength of Sacramento’s bid, and most importantly, to the faith and devotion of Republic FC fans. We will continue our ongoing communication with the Commissioner and with MLS and look forward to finalizing all next steps to deliver MLS to Sacramento.
SACRAMENTO — Major League Soccer’s Board of Governors will meet Thursday in Beverly Hills to discuss, among other things, expansion. This is a road the city of Sacramento and the Republic FC have been down before, but hopes are high for a happier outcome. Sacramento and St. Louis are vying to become the home of the 28th MLS franchise. Sacramento was at a time considered to be a frontrunner for expansion but was told in December of 2017 that the Republic FC and the city’s bid needed more work. “I do think we are stronger for the journey that we’ve had, really, from day one but certainly over the last 16 months,” Republic FC President Ben Gumpert said. “To make sure we’re shoring up our ownership group with great, additional sports experience and financial capital.”
The additions of billionaire owner Ron Burkle and partner Matt Alvarez also paved the way for a $33 million incentive package with the city that was approved last week for a new stadium and development of the surrounding Railyards in Downtown Sacramento. “We made a modest, public contribution around infrastructure that shows the league that we’re all in. So all the signs point to ‘yes,'” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. Sacramento has officially completed all of the requirements for a leading MLS expansion bid. “You don’t get an opportunity like this to start a major league franchise in a city. This is more than once a generation. Our bid is levels and levels above where it was, and that makes us even more confident and excited about what’s to come,” Gumpert said. It’s possible the league will want more time to examine the bids, but the Republic FC and city officials are feeling good. “There is no guarantee,” Steinberg said. “But, man, are we in a good position.”