Sacramento's MLS expansion plans take hit as lead investor Burkle backs out

Sacramento's MLS expansion plans take hit as lead investor Burkle backs out

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Sacramento's MLS expansion plans take hit as lead investor Burkle backs out

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Sacramento Republic wasn’t supposed to begin life as an MLS franchise until 2023, but that start date could be in longterm jeopardy after recent news was revealed on Friday.

Lead investor Ron Burkle has decided not to move forward with the acquisition of an MLS franchise in Sacramento, the league announced. The city was awarded a franchise in October 2019, but wasn’t set to start play until 2022 originally.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLS pushed back Sacramento’s start date to 2023, and now the the league has an issue on its hands regarding whether or not the investment will continue or stall.

“Earlier today, Ron Burkle informed the League that based on issues with the project related to COVID-19, he has decided to not move forward with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team in Sacramento,” a league statement read.

“After working for many years to bring an MLS team to Sacramento, the League continues to believe it can be a great MLS market. In the coming days, the League will work with Mayor Darrell Steinberg to evaluate possible next steps for MLS in Sacramento.”

“I want to thank Mayor Steinberg for his continued efforts to bring MLS to Sacramento,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “His commitment to the city and delivering for its passionate soccer fans should make all citizens of Sacramento proud.

“Interest in owning a club in Major League Soccer has never been higher. And I remain incredibly optimistic about finalizing expansion plans for our 30th team.”

The Republic joined the United Soccer League (USL) in 2014, winning the league title in its first year of existence. In 2017, the club received commitments for more than 10,000 season tickets for the proposed MLS team and was set to become the 29th MLS side once it begins play.

With Burkle stepping down, Matt Alvarez, an entertainment executive and producer, and current Sacramento Kings investor Kevin Nagle remain on the investor group. There has been no news on who could step in as Burkle’s replacement in the group, but that could change in the near future.

 

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