After years of trying, Sacramento officially is getting a Major League Soccer team.
Sacramento Republic FC will be the league's 29th team, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced in a Monday morning press conference alongside California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and club investors Ron Burkle, Matt Alvarez and Kevin Nagle. Republic FC will join the league in 2022.
Monday's announcement was the culmination of a five-year effort from the city and investors to bring an MLS team to California's capital. Republic FC has played in the second-tier United Soccer League since 2014, but the club has had its eyes on MLS all along. But in 2017, MLS told Sacramento that its proposed ownership group "was not as well capitalized as the league wanted it to be," according to The Sacramento Bee.
That changed when Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner and billionaire investor Ron Burkle purchased a controlling interest in Republic FC in January, giving Sacramento's MLS hopes a financial boost alongside business partner Matt Alvarez. In April, the MLS board of governors unanimously voted to expand the league to 30 teams, inviting Sacramento to bid.
"Well, I'm not sure it's a relief," Garber told reporters in Sacramento on Sunday night (H/T KXTV's Lina Washington). "It's exciting. This is a city that we really think is on the rise. It's got a great vibe to it and a great energy. There's a lot of activity going on downtown. We love this idea of urban stadiums, and this is going to be one of them.
"The railyards project is something that even reverberates in our offices back in New York."
Shortly before the board of governors vote, the Sacramento City Council approved a non-binding term sheet with Republic FC, calling for the club to build a $252 million stadium on undeveloped land in the downtown railyards. The term sheet also called for the city to provide a $33 million incentive package, including $27 million to repay the club for building infrastructure around the stadium and $2.4 million in tax rebates.