Major League Soccer (MLS) has unveiled Sacramento’s United Soccer League (USL) team, Sacramento Republic FC as its 29th expansion franchise.
As part of the side’s expansion into the league, the Republic will pay a $200 million expansion fee to join in 2022 – a figure which the Sacramento Bee has reported is part of a $500m to $600m investment that owner Ron Burkle is expected to bring to the club.
Burkle commented on the news: “Sacramento’s selection by Major League Soccer for an expansion team is a victory to be celebrated by everyone in our community. This has been a true team effort between the amazing soccer fans of the Sacramento region along with Mayor Steinberg and City Council, our partners and corporate leaders. The relationship between Sacramento and our club already is a special one, and I’m committed to deepening that connection for years to come.”
The announcement of the expansion slot ends the city’s long wait to enter the MLS as Sacramento has been attempting to secure an expansion into the league since 2015.
MLS commissioner, Don Garber added: “Major League Soccer continues to grow throughout North America and we are so proud to welcome Sacramento as our newest team. For many years, soccer fans in Sacramento have passionately supported Republic FC and shown that the club deserves to be competing at the highest level.”
The club’s most recent attempt to secure an expansion saw them overlooked in 2017 due to financial concerns, however, since then it has received the financial backing of Burkle, who is part-owner of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as Matt Alvarez, which has seemingly put an end to any concerns surrounding the clubs funding.
Insider Insight: This announcement means that there is just one expansion slot remaining, with the financial power of Carolina Panthers’ David Tepper behind them, it’s predicted that this slot will go to Charlotte.
As part of the MLS’ expansion plans, Miami and Nashville join in 2020, before Austin follow suit in 2021. St.Louis will then join Sacramento in 2022 to bring the league number up to 29. The growth is likely to add new life to the league and strengthen its levels of fan engagement.