Tue, Oct 15, 2019

Major League Soccer is on the verge of adding a fourth team to the state of California. Just weeks after awarding a franchise to the city of St. Louis, MLS is expected to do the same in the near future for the city of Sacramento, sources tell CBS Sports.

Sacramento would become the 29th franchise as commissioner Don Garber pushes for his goal of expanding the league to 30 teams, which was announced back in April.   

One source suggests that the deal is practically done and that the league has even started making plans for a formal announcement, but MLS reached out to CBS Sports to notify that an agreement to bring an expansion team to Sacramento has not yet been finalized. “We remain in advanced discussions with Ron Burkle and Matt Alvarez regarding a team for Sacramento, and we will share more details at the appropriate time,” executive vice president of communications Dan Courtemanche said.

As always, the expansion process in MLS is usually fluid and can always get pushed back. Think of what happened with FC Cincinnati, for example. The city waited several months before it was handed the keys to play in the big league. Nonetheless, Sacramento fans have reasons to be excited for what’s set to come.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg held talks with Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, part-owner of the NHL‘s Pittsburgh Penguins, and Hollywood film producer Matt Alvarez this week. Burkle and Alvarez lead the Sacramento Republic FC investment group that has negotiated with MLS. The Sacramento Republic is a current USL franchise in which Burkle agreed to buy controlling interest back in January, according to The Sacramento Bee. That was a huge part in the process as it served as evidence for MLS that the financial resources are there to make this move happen. It was a big step forward in boosting the city’s chances for an expansion team. 

Sacramento city council recently approved the term sheet for the construction of stadium with a capacity of 22,000. Republic FC owners have proposed a stadium in the Railyards area of the city that would be 375,00 square feet. According to The Sacramento Bee, the stadium would be built on 31 acres and would include canopy-level seating, lookout points of the city’s skyline, and the construction would begin within months of MLS making a Sacramento expansion official. That could mean construction beginning in the early part of 2020, if things go well. 

MLS will expand to 26 teams at the start of the 2020 season with the additions of Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC. Austin FC will become the 27th franchise in 2021. The addition of St. Louis and Sacramento will bump the league up to 29 teams by 2022, meaning there will be one more expansion spot available to reach its goal of 30 teams. Markets that have shown interest include Charlotte, Las Vegas (which just hosted the Leagues Cup final), Phoenix, Detroit, Raleigh, San Diego and Indianapolis. 

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