Report: MLS to confirm Sacramento expansion franchise on Monday
The local newspaper says the North American soccer league will hold a press conference and fan event in California’s capital city on Monday to announce that the United Soccer League’s (USL) Sacramento Republic FC will make the step up to become its 29th team.
The Republic have since issued a statement on Twitter in response to the report, saying: ‘We share the great excitement and anticipation in our community about Sacramento’s bid to join Major League Soccer.
‘We will continue to respect the MLS expansion process and remain confident about the future of our club and our city. We look forward to sharing more information in the days ahead.’
Sacramento has been attempting to secure an expansion team since 2015, but its chances were improved at the beginning of this year when Ron Burkle, the billionaire part-owner of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins, joined the Republic as lead investor.
The Republic then received city council backing in April for a new US$252 million, 20,000-seater stadium to further boost its chances of landing an MLS franchise.
Later that month, the Republic emerged as a front runner in the race to join MLS when the league announced it had been authorised to advance talks with the ownership groups of Sacramento and St Louis, which was officially awarded its own expansion team in August .
If the Sacramento franchise is confirmed, it will pay US$200 million expansion fee to become the fourth MLS team in California, joining the Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles Football Club and the San Jose Earthquakes.
Confirmation would also mean that MLS has only one spot left to fill if it is to stick to its expansion target of 30 teams. The league currently has 24 clubs, with franchises in Miami and Nashville set to join next season. An expansion team in Austin has been confirmed for 2021, while the St Louis outfit will begin play in 2022.
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has been on the offensive recently in an attempt to secure the final slot for Charlotte, revealing plans in August to build a new multi-purpose stadium that would house both his National Football League (NFL) team and a new MLS franchise. It was then reported in September that Tepper was set to ask the City of Charlotte for up to US$215 million to help land an MLS team.
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