(KTXL) — The Sacramento Republic FC hopes to one day join the MLS, and a potential new investor could help make that a reality. 

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said The Stronach Group has been in talks with city leaders over the past year, which could lead to a revived MLS bid for Sacramento. 

“We have been working hard over the past year with the Stronach Group, with DRV (Downtown Railyard Venure, LLC), the group that owns the railyards and I will say that we have made significant progress on all of the elements that are necessary in order to complete an agreement with Major League Soccer,” Steinberg said in a news conference on Thursday. 

Belinda Stronach, CEO of The Stronach Group, and Kevin Gillmore, EVP and COO of the company, met with Steinberg during the discussions. The mayor recently attended a Republic FC match with Gillmore and the club’s chairman and CEO Kevin 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. 

Who is Belinda Stronach? 

Prior to serving in the role as CEO for her company, the Stronach Group, Stronach was formerly the vice-chairman of Magna International, an auto parts manufacturing company founded by her father Frank Stronach. 

Magna International is considered one of the largest automobile parts manufacturers in North America and is headquartered in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. 

Stronach previously served as a member of the Canadian Parliament in the House of Commons from 2004 to 2008. 

She was originally elected as a conservative and later change political parties as a Liberal in 2005.

“I’ve met with Belinda and worked with her team and they’re extraordinary,” Steinberg said. “They have an incredible track record in business and she, Belinda Stronach herself, is a former public servant being a part of the Canadian Parliament.” 

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What is the Stronach Group? 

The Stronach Group is an entertainment and real estate development company focusing on Thoroughbred horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering, according to the company’s website.

Under the 1/ST brand, the company owns and manages racetracks in North America including Santa Anita and the soon-to-be-closed Golden Gate Fields in the Bay Area. 

The company also owns Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, which is home of the Preakness Stakes, one of the oldest races in the country and the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. 

What are the Republic FC’s MLS chances?

A potential new investor could revive hope for fans who are starved for a team in the MLS and a stadium at the railyards. 

The Republic FC was previously announced as the MLS’ 29th expansion franchise in 2019, but the lead investor at the time, Ron Burkle, backed out due to business concerns citing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

San Diego was recently awarded an MLS expansion bid, becoming the 30th team in the league, and will play in 2025. 

To expand past 30 teams, MLS owners would have to add more teams in the league including Sacramento. 

If Sacramento were to join the league, it’ll make five Californian teams in the MLS. 

In April 2022, Republic chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle announced plans of building a stadium downtown in hopes of a future MLS expansion. 

“They know what Sacramento can bring to this league,” Steinberg said in his news conference. “That is an incredible fanbase, an already entitled stadium, we don’t have to go through any regulatory requirements to build the stadium, and a community that would just embrace Major League Soccer.”