SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Just over 13 months since Sacramento’s MLS bid fell apart because of Ron Burkle pulling his support, Republic FC owner Kevin Nagle is once again making a push to build a permanent stadium at the Railyards.
“We’re going to bring a soccer stadium to Sacramento, in the railyards,” Nagle told FOX40 in an exclusive interview.
This new concept has been in the works for over a year, with Nagle determined to bring a stadium to downtown Sacramento, regardless of whether or not MLS follows.
“We’ve been working on it for quite a while,” Nagle said. “Frankly, since we had the exit from being admitted into Major League Soccer. We had to go back to the drawing boards and determine what our next steps are gonna be, and it was determined that one way or another, we were gonna create a soccer stadium – whether it would be for Major League Soccer or leading up to Major League Soccer.”
As of now, MLS doesn’t appear to be in the picture. Neither Nagle nor the group working on this new stadium project have spoken with commissioner Don Garber, though they’ve tried.
But the goal of eventually bringing a second major league team to the city is one that’s driving this new push for a stadium at the Railyards.
“We just couldn’t wait and see,” Nagle said. “I’m a doer and the mayor wanted something to do, and we’ve continued to try to see if we could make Major League Soccer a reality. But we also knew we needed to have a new stadium. We can’t continue to play at where we do right now, so we wanted to make the downtown Railyards our home.”
Despite Nagle’s hope, there are no guarantees.
“It may not happen, but I think there’s a very good chance it will happen,” Nagle said. “We just need our partners to come together.”
He’s been in regular communication with Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who is “very involved,” according to Nagle. He’s still working on finalizing the financing with investors and a deal with Downtown Railyard Ventures to lock up the land.
“We need to raise a little bit more money, not a lot,” Nagle said. “We need our partner to help us finalize the piece of the puzzle so that we’ve got all the appropriate accoutrements that we need – acreage and location. Some of that still has to be finalized.”
Nagle sees reasons for optimism, though. While the stadium will be completely different than what was originally planned for MLS, that work laid the groundwork for this new project that should help expedite the process.
“You have a design, you have the location, you’ve got some permits that are already in place,” Nagle said when asked how far along this new plan is. “Some of those [permits] need to be updated. You probably have some other architectural elements that you’re gonna have to modify. So there’s always that, but I don’t think that that’s overwhelming.”
Nagle’s brought on Manica Architecture and Machete Group to help design the new stadium. It’s currently planned to seat 12,000-15,000 fans but will have the ability to expand to more than 20,000 in a matter of months, according to Nagle, if the city is once again granted an MLS club.
The original planned stadium was projected to cost between $250-$300 million and seat over 20,000. While Nagle is planning on this new plan being more cost effective, he couldn’t specify exactly how much it would cost or how much public funding would be involved.
“It’s really hard to say,” Nagle said. “I wouldn’t want you to commit me to certain numbers. [Funding] is variable. Most of it’s gonna be from investors and me. There is some nominal support from the city, but it’s very limited. And then also support from, hopefully, the other partners that we’re gonna be bringing in, as well.”
With so many variables still up in the air, Nagle couldn’t lock down a timeline for when construction would start, but he has an aggressive goal for when Sac Republic can play its first game in its new home: 2023.
“I think next year,” Nagle said. “We’ve got a very unique design. That design is different than I’d say that first-generation model that we had. We could structure it and put it together much sooner and quicker than what we had in I’d say that first-generation model.
“We’d love to have a deal in the next 90 days, and then really, I would say, because we’ve done so much work, we could start implementing some of those areas we’ve worked on, since we have an architectural design and we’ve got some other approvals that are already out the preliminarily, to really start moving as soon as we can,” Nagle continued. “Whether that’s 120 days from now, whether that’s 150, but really, I think sooner than later.”
Fans who’ve been clamoring for an MLS team could understandably be wary about this new plan. While Nagle is optimistic, he’s clearly acknowledged the hurdles that still need to be overcome.
In October 2019, they were told by Garber, the MLS commissioner, that Sacramento would be home to the league’s 29th franchise, but It’s now April 2022 and it appears MLS has moved on and is making overtures to other markets.
“Be patient,” Nagle said when asked what he would tell SRFC faithful. “It’s going to come. It’s going to be a reality. Whether we’re playing the highest tier of USL soccer in the Championship League or we’re someplace else, it’s going to come. It’s going to happen. Be patient.”