After years of trying, it appears that Major League Soccer is finally heading to Sacramento.
Sacramento Republic FC have long been one of the best runs franchises in the lower leagues in the United States of America and both city officials and their new ownership group have backed this push to join MLS.
It seemed certain that Sacramento would get a team in 2016 and 2017, but they’ve been left behind as plenty of other cities have been awarded expansion franchises.
A report from the Sacramento Bee states that the franchise will be announced on Monday in a ceremony in downtown Sacramento.
“Sources said league officials will hold a press conference in downtown Monday followed by a fan event in the afternoon, celebrating the franchise award. The announcement will mark the successful conclusion of a laborious five-year effort by Sacramento community leaders and various investors to secure a franchise in MLS.”
New majority owners LA billionaire Ron Burkle (who also owns the Pittsburgh Penguins) and Hollywood producer Matt Alvarez joined Sacramento businessman Kevin Nagle this spring to get the finances in line for a new soccer-specific stadium and to pay the expansion fee which is close to $200 million.
Sacramento released a statement on the speculation, after Burkle, Alvarez and Nagle had been working closely with MLS in recent months to iron out the details of arriving in North America’s top-flight.
“We share the great excitement and anticipation in our community about Sacramento’s bid to join Major League Soccer. We will continue to respect the MLS expansion process and remain confident about the future of our club and our city. We look forward to sharing more information in the days ahead.”
Nagle and Warren Smith set up Sacramento Republic FC, who began play in the United Soccer Leagues in 2014, and have built an impressive fanbase.
Burkle and Alvarez were the final pieces of the jigsaw as their cash investment will allow the construction of a $250 million 20,000 capacity stadium long planned in the Railyards district of downtown Sacramento, while the city will also add funding to the effort as they add their second major league franchise.
Sacramento Republic will have an instant rival in MLS too, as the San Jose Earthquakes are located just 120 miles south-west.
With St. Louis awarded an expansion franchise in August and to begin play in 2022, MLS is now up to 29 teams with Nashville and Miami joining for the 2020 season, plus Austin FC arriving in 2021.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber seems keen to get the number of teams to 30, with Charlotte, Phoenix, Detroit and Las Vegas all pushing hard to become the 30th franchise in the coming years.
Sacramento’s journey to MLS has been a long one, but now they are about to celebrate.