MLS expansion: Sacramento ready to make the move

SACRAMENTO, CA - JULY 18: Jack Colback
SACRAMENTO, CA - JULY 18: Jack Colback /

The Sacramento Republic are on the verge of MLS expansion. Here is how they got to this stage, following in St. Louis’ footsteps.

Sacramento officials and Major League Soccer are about to OK a framework for the Sacramento Republic to advance and join St. Louis as the latest to cities to win MLS expansion.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg cautions that no deal has been signed yet, but he’s ‘never been more confident’ that MLS expansion has all but landed in the City of Sacramento.

The Sacramento Bee went further relying on their sources. They said the framework stands between Sacramento and MLS to field a top-tier Sacramento Republic taking the pitch in 2022. The sources said just a few wrinkles remain to get ironed out.

Without divulging sensitive details, Sacramento Republic President Ben Gumpert had already confirmed the MLS expansion deal is nearing the finish line.

Just several weeks ago, MLS Board of Governors confirmed that St. Louis will get the 28th spot. That city’s ownership group brings with enthusiasm a unique organization in the sport. Expansion team owner Carolyn Kindle Betz explained it’s the first MLS ownership group that is majority women.

What captured the fancy of many is that St. Louis rose unexpectedly into the MLS expansion race from ashes. Their attempt in 2017 to secure a government-backed stadium deal failed. The strongest opposition came from within the city, but the latest group of leaders quietly worked with local groups and MLS, and as many observers considered what happened, they got their expansion nod. They are in. So now, Sacramento leaders stand as close as they can get to the 29th MLS expansion slot.

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Garber earlier identified some of the wrinkles, including solid plans for corporate sponsorship support and training player development. On the latter issue, he acknowledged back in April that the Sacramento group had demonstrated significant progress. He also said at the time there were a few issues related to the 20,000-seat Sacramento MLS stadium outstanding.

Garber has repeatedly spoken to the increasingly complex environment that MLS expansion candidates have to master to begin formal talks about joining the league. Sacramento has had to provide detailed documents about securing their $250 million stadium. The entry fee into MLS has risen to $200 million. Convincing details have to reach the MLS Board of Governors and incredible sums of money have to be in place.

Sacramento supporters, meanwhile, have been ready for action all along, but getting MLS expansion isn’t easy. For some cities with their eyes on expansion, it’s remained anywhere from elusive to impossible.

Next. 3 things learned: Orlando City vs. LAFC. dark

But St. Louis successfully fought their way to the top. And Sacramento has all but done so. Next up for MLS expansion consideration: Las Vegas and Charlotte. And what about Phoenix?