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Report: City money not available for Sacramento soccer stadium

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Sacramento Republic at San Jose Earthquakes

Photo by USA Today Photo Images

By DAN KARELL

Sacramento Republic FC has enjoyed incredible support in their inaugural season in USL Pro, but it doesn’t look like their early successes will translate into an easier road towards building a stadium of their own.

According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson all but ruled out using public money to help finance a new soccer stadium, which could be part of a bid for Sacramento to jump up to MLS. The report states that a new stadium could cost as much as $100 million. Sacramento Republic currently play at the brand-new 8,000-seat capacity Bonney Field.

“I do not have an appetite to provide tax dollars to build a soccer stadium,” Johnson told the Bee. “Can it be built without it? It’s possible. Other cities have privately financed soccer stadiums.”

Johnson’s comments are somewhat hypocritical however, as the city is currently financing more than half of the new $477 million basketball arena for the Kings and is looking into building a new performing arts center in downtown, which could cost anywhere from $11-52 million if they renovate the current performing arts center or $100-300 million if they build a new one.

Johnson along with executives from the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Republic, met with MLS officials in Portland during All-Star week to discuss what it would take to have an expansion franchise in Sacramento.

In early August, reports out of Sacramento stated that the Kings were interested in becoming involved with Sacramento Republic’s ownership group, including club president Warren Smith, over a potential MLS expansion franchise. MLS is currently in the process of adding five more teams to the league by 2020.

Two, New York City FC and Orlando City SC will join the league in 2015, with Atlanta set to follow in 2017. David Beckham’s potential Miami franchise is hinging on a stadium deal before he’s officially granted an expansion team, leaving two places open for U.S. cities to have expansion teams by the end of the decade.

The report in the Bee states that Sacramento Republic haven’t approached the city with any plans for an MLS-ready stadium. Smith told the Bee that he feels there’s “a strong possibility we can privately finance” a stadium.

Even if there is no city money available, Sacramento Republic can still reach out to both the county and state for any subsidies that could help with financing a stadium.

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What do you think of this report? Do you expect Sacramento Republic to privately finance a stadium? Think they’re a strong candidate for MLS expansion?

Share your thoughts below.

32 comments
  • slowleftarm

    I see. So the former basketball player mayor will spend a few hundred million on an arena for one of the worst franchises in American sports but won’t spend a dime for a new soccer stadium.

    Like

    • Matt

      There s big difference between spending money to keep a team in your town, and spending money to try and bring in a new team.

      Like

      • Eurosnob

        Washington DC spent lots of $$$ to bring in the Nats, while DCU is still without its own stadium.

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      • Matt

        Which has absolutely nothing to do with Sacramento, but if you want to dig that up again…

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      • JayAre

        Yea DC United keeps getting it in the A$$. There is construction going on left and right in DC, I don’t understand why they keep stone walling them.

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    • DYCSoccer17

      He spent all of the city’s money to keep the Kings in town before he had any clue how successful SRFC was going to be. Thankfully, soccer specific stadia are much cheaper to build than arenas. $150 mil is nothing for Vivek, and this will basically give him a monopoly on entertainment options in Sacramento. A downtown soccer-specific stadium that could be used for concerts would kill the Sleep Train Ampitheatre, too.

      Like

    • Timber Danny

      When MLS owners have a revenue sharing system AS LUCRATIVE as the NBA, then we can talk about an owner’s influence on local/regional politics. In short, soccer isn’t the Cash Cow that basketball is… yet.

      There’s also nothing hypocritical about the Mayor’s statements. He said there’s not going to be available public funds to support a soccer stadium. Ok. It just means the city of Sacramento has prioritized other expenses over soccer. Fine. Sacramento will have a great USL Pro team, in a new stadium going forward and that’s good for fans in that area.

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      • KGB

        Well said.

        From a pure usage standpoint, it’s a big unfair to compare an NBA arena to a soccer stadium, seeing that NBA teams play 42 home games a year, plus the playoHAHAHAHAHA I’m sorry the thought of the Kings in the playoffs is hilarious I can’t even finish my post, but you get it.

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      • JayAre

        Lol. Yeah that Arena is getting 41 NBA games ONLY!!!!!!!!, a few concerts and other minor events. Arena’s unlike NFL stadiums have a lot of utility.

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    • DYCSoccer17

      Bonney Field is not in downtown, and the location is less than ideal. It probably will be expanded to handle 12,000 people in the interim, especially if an MLS franchise is awarded and construction of a new venue is imminent.

      Like

  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    So one guy is the final decision ?
    That might lead to someone with a bias doing something not fair, no ?

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  • RK

    Who can blame him — getting that stadium built was extremely difficult.

    Don Geronimo can fund it.

    Like

    • Jay

      And was only done with a gun to the cities had with a threat of a move. And as much as we love MLS it’s not in the same galaxy as the NBA. The NBA is going to get favor and help that mls won’t get. It may not be fair but that’s life.

      Like

  • Justin

    If it doesn’t involve underage girls or the Sacramento Kings, he is not interested in pursuing it.

    Like

  • NASL TO EL PASO TX

    Like always,city council and mayor don’t support soccer stadiums and MLS😦 nothing new.
    City council prefer arenas that bring nba, pop star concerts and nfl stadiums.
    MLS need a commissioner that speaks out versus city councils and has the guts to speak against new nba and nfl buildings.
    However, soccer stadiums can be cheap or expensive, or in the middle. Look at red bull arena and new San Jose’s stadium. It all depends if you a cheap owner and If the city helps.
    I think a proper soccer stadium with a nice design costs around 130 to 175 million in the US, right.
    As for MLS expansion, just give the Sacramento, Minneapolis, Vegas a team and go for Miami and Los Angeles in 3 to 4 years. C’mon, Miami and Los Angeles 2 are a sure thing, but they need like 3 to 4 years more:) to get their issues straight.

    Like

    • Gerald

      Yeah but RBA was built with private money at about 200 mil and it was built on a plot of land that No one was going to use

      Like

  • Cabrito

    As a Sacramentan(?), Sacramentite(?),…anyway, this news isn’t surprising. This City won’t have the public support to spend tax dollars on a SSS. Sac Republuc owners were never going to rely on public money to get it built. Either way, we’ll be in MLS in less than five years. Bet on it.

    Like

    • RA

      “Sac Republuc owners were never going to rely on public money to get it built.”

      Really? They already tried to add a county sales tax and stopped that effort due to the backlash.

      Like

  • Toe Ball

    They’re a USL team playing in a new stadium? Seems premature to start talking about a new stadium and a possible bid for an MLS franchise.

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    • beto

      agreed their new stadium looks pretty good too.

      (not from Sacramento) but the issue appears to be there is very large downtown infill parcel that is big enough for multiple stadiums and other uses. Republic and the (NBA) Kings all want in and now the mayor is saying that he will fund the NBA arena but not a soccer stadium.

      Their MLS bid would defiantly get approval if the stadium was downtown, their current house could work too.

      Like

      • BrianSD

        The new Kings arena is not going into the “infill parcel” AKA the Downtown Railyards. The new Kings arena is going to stand where the largely defunt Downtown Plaza mall is currently located (they are currently demolishing it so they can start construction of the Kings arena). Also, the city and the owners of the Kings (Vivek Ranadive & Co.) agreed to a stadium deal/proposal sometime last year and the city council finalized everything a few months ago.

        The city of Sacramento has already spent millions of dollars on environmental remediation to prepare the railyards site for development so if Sac Republic FC can get a stadium financed with minimal or no public financial support then technically the city did finance part of the effort for getting the stadium built.

        Like

  • Joamiq

    I don’t see what’s “hypocritical” about this. And they can probably privately finance this.

    Like

  • beto

    tax dollars should never be part of a stadium deal. shame on the NBA, politicians and rich owners who force cities to giving them welfare.

    glad MLS is growing with less of this compared to the other leagues.

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    • Arturo

      Agreed, these stadium deals never work out well for the cities. They end up absorbing almost all of the losses. It essentially amounts to a bribe from the city.

      Like

  • Bo

    Wait until Sac Republic attendance surpasses the Kings. When that happens, KJ, or as the author calls him, the Johnson, will be on the bandwagon. (My dad can’t stand him, and is pissed of using tax money to fund part of the Kings new stadium)

    Like

    • Cabrito

      I don’t like him either. Cocky as hell. He was at the Sac Rep game last weekend for what was only a thinly veiled publicity stunt.

      Like

  • Perry Singer

    It is really costly to finance a newly built stadium but I hope the city will do something about it because the stadium is not only for players but also for the supporters all over the world.

    Like

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