Will MLS ever come to Sacramento?

The Sacramento Republic FC, the city's minor league soccer team, played its 5th game of the season at its new stadium Bonney Field Friday night.

The Republic beat the Colorado Rapids Reserves 4-3 at the 8,000-seat stadium, near the Cal Expo horse track. With its now 7-4-2 record, the team is on track to make the playoffs in its inaugural season.

But, can it reach its long term goal: becoming a major league franchise?

Currently, the Sacramento Republic FC is a minor league team for the San Jose Earthquakes -- what the River Cats are to the Oakland A's.

When asked, team president Warren Smith agreed convincing Major League Soccer to come to Sacramento is an uphill battle.

"We've always known that," Smith said. "We're a mid-tier market."

The MLS currently has 19 teams, including three in California. It's also expanding into New York, Orlando, Atlanta and likely Miami.

It's rumored there's only two slots left. But Smith was quick to add, "If Orlando can do it, we can do it."

According to Smith, MLS has criteria to become a pro-team: there must be fan and community support, an ownership group with the money to invest and a downtown stadium.

Smith is currently looking at several options as potential homes for a stadium, including the railyards, Cal Expo and Elk Grove.

"We are behind other cities, we're not naïve enough to think that cities like Minneapolis, Miami, aren't appealing to them," he said. "Especially when you have NFL teams and owners that are willing to make that investment and build stadiums."

Paul Janes, a News10 web producer and former league player said there's a slim chance MLS will ever come to Sacramento.

"Logically, I'd say no," Janes said. "Emotionally, I sure hope so."

Janes believes the ownership and a stadium can be done, but that might not be enough.

"With New York and Miami, I'm just not sure Sacramento has that sex appeal to it," he said.

However, in Sacramento's favor is the attendance record. So far, the Republic has either sold out, or nearly sold out every game so far.

The MLS is taking notice, according to Smith, who recently met the league's deputy commissioner.

"He had nothing to say, but great things about Sacramento."


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