(KTXL) — Sacramento Republic FC’s quest to join Major League Soccer has been quite the rollercoaster for fans. 

The team was originally announced as the league’s 29th expansion franchise in 2019 with a start date in 2022.

However, the Republic FC’s MLS debut was pushed to 2023 due to the pandemic, but the club’s chances of playing in the league were scrapped after lead investor Ron Burkle backed out in 2021.

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Two years later, Sacramento’s hopes of joining the MLS were revived after Steinberg said the city and club are in talks with a potential new investor in Canadian businesswoman Belinda Stronach. 

It’s unknown what the future holds for Sacramento’s MLS hopes, but it has been close before. 

Here’s the timeline of Republic FC’s journey to the MLS.


In April 2016, MLS commissioner Dan Garber made a visit to Sacramento to meet with investors and city officials and tour the railyard stadium site. 

At the time, a total of 24 franchises were either in the league or were scheduled to begin play within three years. Gerber said the league aimed to expand to 28 teams and Sacramento was expected to be “one of the next four” teams to join the league. 

Later in November, the Sacramento City Council approved to build a $226 million 20,000-seat stadium at the railyards for the Republic FC. 

The development proposal included plans for a new medical facility, housing, offices, museums, hotels and parks. 


In January 2017, Sacramento was one of 12 cities to submit bids for four MLS expansion slots.  

However, the bid didn’t include the Republic FC. 

The next month, an agreement was announced for the Republic FC to be acquired by Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings, which is the company that submitted the bid. 


In April, the MLS said it intended to expand to 30 teams and that Sacramento and St. Louis were leading candidates for spots 28 and 29. St. Louis landed the 28th spot and was officially awarded its MLS expansion team in August. 

Later that year in October, Sacramento soccer fans received the news that it was awarded an expansion bid.

Sacramento was picked to become the MLS’ 29th franchise with the club expected to debut in 2022.

The Republic FC’s MLS debut was pushed back to 2023 due to the pandemic.


As Sacramento was gearing up to play in the MLS, the Republic FC’s MLS was put on hiatus after lead investor Ron Burkle backed out, citing business concerns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, Gerber said in a statement that “the league continues to believe it (Sacramento) can be a great MLS market.” The club reaffirmed its commitment to find another billionaire investor to help bring an MLS team to the region.


As it appeared the MLS has moved on from Sacramento’s bid, Republic FC chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle made another push to build a stadium at the Railyards. 

In April 2022, 13 months since Sacramento’s MLS bid fell apart, Nagle announced plans of building a stadium at the vacant downtown site regardless of whether the club is in the MLS or not.  

The plan includes 12,500 to 15,000 seats with the ability to expand to more than 20,000 if the city is once again granted an MLS club. 


In January, Nagle told the Sacramento Business Journal that updates on the stadium, including timing and size, could come in July. 

Over a year after Nagle announced his stadium plans, the MLS awarded its 30th team to San Diego in May 2023. 

The San Diego club is expected to compete in 2025, playing their games at Snapdragon Stadium — a 35,000-seat venue. 

Reportedly, San Diego’s expansion fee for the MLS franchise was $500 million. 

In June, Nagle hinted at an official announcement of a new stadium at The Railyards following his purchase of Huddersfield Town AFC in the English Football League. 

“We’re going to build a new stadium in Sacramento,” Nagle said at the time. “That’ll be announced in probably the next 60 days.” 

A month later, Sacramento’s MLS hopes may be revived, as Belinda Stronach, CEO of the Stronach Group, has emerged as a potential investor for the Republic FC. 

In a news conference on July 27, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the investment group has been in talks with city leaders over the past year. 

The mayor attended a Republic FC match on July 26 with Kevin Gillmore, EVP and COO of the Stronach Group, and Nagle.

“They’re looking for great opportunities and they see in Sacramento what we all know, which is this city is sports crazy and we’re hungry for Major League Soccer,” Steinberg said.