SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento City Council will vote Tuesday, April 9, on an agreement to build a $252 million dollar stadium in the Railyards, just north of downtown. The stadium would be privately financed, although the city would waive certain fees and offer tax incentives.
This is the most comprehensive plan yet to bring Major League Soccer to Sacramento.
Sac Republic has been trying for years to become a Major League Soccer team. The league passed over Sacramento in 2017, when it was one of four finalists, picking Nashville instead. And MLS picked Cincinnati over Sac in 2018.
So what's different this time? Billionaire Ron Burkle. Earlier this year, he became a lead investor in the Sac Republic Football Club.
“This agreement with Ron Burkle and the Republic shows that sometimes, what appears to be a setback actually delivers a bigger victory," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.
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In 2017, he said, the city and team were focusing solely on the stadium and wooing MLS.
"Today, 16 months later, we’re talking about and taking action not only to get Major League Soccer and to build a first-class professional soccer stadium, but also about the development of 17 acres next to the stadium, for a cumulative investment of about $1 billion in our Railyards and in our city,” Steinberg said.
In a video shared Thursday, Steinberg called the proposal "an easy one" to support.
"When I look at the cost and benefits for our city in this agreement, the decision to support it is an easy one for me," Steinberg said. "And I’m confident that it will be for my colleagues as well, for we are not writing a check and the effort is being driven by private dollars.”
Ben Gumpert, Sac Republic's president and COO, says the proposed agreement represents "a big day on our journey to bring MLS to this city."
He said the team is committing millions of dollars each year in additional community benefits.
"This has always been about stirring economic development — over $1.5 billion over the next 30 years directly tied to the stadium itself," Gumpert said. "The surrounding development goes on top of that, so this is a massive development and investment in our city."
The stadium construction alone is estimated to create between 1,310 and 2,639 of jobs, depending on the predicting model the city uses. Once it's open, the stadium and MLS team could provide between 75 and 120 full-time jobs and more than 800 part-time jobs.
"This has always been about creating jobs: construction jobs, permanent jobs," Gumpert added.
The agreement also includes a "Team Training Complex and Youth Academy," keeping the Sac Republic's primary training complex within the city of Sacramento.
"The training complex would include a new, first-class, state-of-the art facility that would serve as the primary training complex for the Team, host an MLS Youth Academy program, and provide for priority community use (Training Complex)," the proposed agreement says.
As for whether Major League Soccer will finally choose Sacramento, the league is looking for one team right now, and Sacramento is in hot competition with St. Louis for that spot.
“We feel we’re incredibly close and we’re very confident with where we sit. We continue to be in touch with the Commissioner’s office, with Major League Soccer, with MLS owners," Gumpert said. “We are certainly in the final steps of this journey to bring MLS to a fanbase that we know deserves it more than anyone else.”
City Council members will vote on the agreement at their Tuesday meeting, but even if it passes, that's still not a guarantee Major League Soccer will pick the Sac Republic FC as its 28th team - but it will definitely strengthen that bid.
ABC10's Lina Washington provides an update on Sacramento Republic FC's push for Major League Soccer and the billionaire investor joining in team ownership.