UFC fighter among new Sacramento Republic investors, MLS charge continues

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Sacramento is serious about bringing top-flight soccer to California’s capital city. Very serious.

The hugely ambitious USL PRO club (who just secured the USL title in their first season as a franchise) which calls Sacramento home have announced a whole host of new investors are on board as Sacramento Republic FC aims to gain entry into Major League Soccer.

[RELATED: Orlando City joins MLS]

During a visit to Sacramento in September, MLS officials were said to be impressed with what they saw as calls continue for a new franchise in California, especially with Chivas USA’s future looking uncertain amid reports of a two-year hiatus.

UFC fighter Urijah Faber is perhaps the highest profile name among the new owners, which includes minority owners in the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Mark L. Friedman, Dave Lucchetti and Phil Oates, plus investors Dale Carlsen, Brad Jenkins, Jonna and Roger Ward, Dr. Aaron Reeves and Lisa Parker. Those 10 investors join lead investor Kevin Nagle, plus co-founder and club president Warren Smith and developer Larry Kelley in the club’s MLS ownership group.

From the club’s website, here’s what President Warren Smith had to say about a new influx of cash into the team:

“The individuals and companies that are standing behind Republic FC represent many of the region’s biggest success stories. These investors believe not just in the club, but in Sacramento. Their names are synonymous with the region, and each is dedicated to expanding our community’s sports and entertainment options.”

One important note on these new investors: they will only pour money into the franchise if the club are granted MLS expansion rights.

After a hugely impressive first season in North American soccer, the Republic averaged 11,293 fans for the USL PRO which was a league record and better than incoming MLS expansion franchise Orlando City. That includes moving to the smaller venue of Bonney Field halfway through the season which has a capacity of 8,000. Warren Smith’s plans for Sacramento republic include MLS entry by 2016 and a new downtown stadium seating 18,000 people.

As we said at the start, Sacramento is serious about soccer.