Sacramento Republic FC to be next MLS expansion team after long chase

sacramentorepublicfcusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sacramento Republic FC to be next MLS expansion team after long chase

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. 

Reports: Sacramento set to announce MLS expansion team early next week

sacramentorepublicfcusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Reports: Sacramento set to announce MLS expansion team early next week

Major League Soccer's 29th team reportedly will be in Sacramento. 

MLS will announce Monday that it is awarding its next expansion team to Sacramento in a downtown press conference, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday citing "sources with direct knowledge of the deal." KCRA-TV and KOVR-TV later confirmed The Bee's reporting.

The Bee reported the club will play as Sacramento Republic FC, and KOVR-TV reported that they officially will join the league in 2022. Republic FC, which has played in the second tier of American soccer in the United Soccer League, tweeted a pair of statements Tuesday and said the team will share "more information in the days ahead."

The Sacramento City Council unanimously approved a non-binding term sheet in April that calls for Republic FC to build a $252 million stadium on undeveloped land in the downtown railyards and for the city to provide a $33 million incentive package. The package included $2.4 million in tax rebates and waived building permit fees, as well as $27 million from a future increased property tax to reimburse Republic FC for building infrastructure near the stadium.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg, according to The Bee, will propose the City Council modify the agreement to make the $27 million a loan to be paid back with interest by the Sacramento investor group, which is now led by Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle after he agreed to acquire a controlling interest in Republic FC in January. 

The MLS board of governors voted unanimously in April to expand the league from 27 to 30 teams, inviting investor groups in St. Louis and Sacramento to submit bids. MLS awarded St. Louis its 28th franchise in August, and The Bee reported Sacramento's investor group has been in negotiations with MLS since late April. 

Sacramento will join three other teams -- and potential rivals -- in California: the San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy and top-of-the-table LAFC. Republic FC would become the fifth team ever to play in the state, as C.D. Guadalajara-associated Chivas USA folded in 2014.