Sacramento on Thursday got a little bit close to becoming Major League Soccer’s 24th franchise when it announced that Kevin Nagle, the owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, has bought the team and will now lead the push to bring MLS to northern California.
“I love Sacramento – its community, resilience and potential,” said Kevin Nagle. “Early on, I admired Republic FC’s success and efforts to galvanize this region; its bid for MLS is not only about sports, but also a shared vision for Sacramento. I am honored to work side-by-side with Mayor Kevin Johnson and Republic FC President Warren Smith to procure MLS for Sacramento and demonstrate why this region is built for MLS.”
Sacramento has been gaining some real headway towards landing an MLS franchise in the past few months after joining the expansion race. The competition for the 24th team that the league hopes to hand out soon has been tough — with cities like Las Vegas, Minnesota, and San Antonio are making a charge — but when you ask me, Sacramento, a franchise that started playing in USL PRO just this season, has the best case of all those options, even if they would become the fourth team in California.
Nagle was the lead representative for Sacramento during a meeting with MLS Deputy Commissioner Matt Abbot during the MLS All-Star Game in Portland this past August
The team drew over 20,000 fans in each of their first three home matches this season, and have sold-out at 8,000 in every other home game at a different venue this season, so the fan support for a pro soccer team is certainly there. Of course, they would need to build their own downtown stadium, and they are said to be working on their own privately-financed soccer stadium. You’ve have to think that securing a stadium deal with all but lock down their MLS bid.
I’ve felt all along that Sacramento should, and will, get the final expansion spot. I’ve already voiced my opinion on Las Vegas, who recently released plans for a new stadium. San Antonio is also appealing, as is Minnesota, but Sacramento is a more deserving place because like Orlando City, they’ve been building an MLS bid, not buying one.
“This is a big win for Republic FC and our efforts to secure an MLS franchise,” said Mayor Kevin Johnson. “Kevin’s success in business speaks for itself. But his love of this community – borne out by his heroics during the Kings fight, and now, his bold action on MLS, speak volumes to how much he believes in Sacramento and how ready he is to play to win.”