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.
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.