Sacramento Republic Pitching MLS Aspirations At All-Star Weekend In Portland
PORTLAND (CBS13) — During all-star week for Major League Soccer, the Sacramento Republic and representatives from the city are making a pitch in Portland to land a team in California’s capital.
Sacramento Republic founder Warren Smith pitched Sacramento as an MLS expansion club to anyone interested.
“They’re saying they’re paying attention; they like the crowds in the market,” he said.
The first-year team has already set a USL Pro record with more than 118,000 fans attending its games with five more home games left in the season. While some of that was buoyed by playing its first four games at Hughes Stadium—a venue with a capacity around 20,000—the team still managed to sell out some of those matches before moving to the cozier confines of Bonney Field.
It’s not just fans hungry for soccer that Smith is showing off. He’s also delivering Sacramento Kings investors as part of his plan.
“There’s some investors that they would like to have at the table with them,” he said.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber will tour Sacramento in September to see possible stadium sites. The Republic have discussed three possibilities: The Sacramento railyards, the West Sacramento bridge district and the Downtown Plaza.
The railyards remain the largest urban infill site west of the Mississippi and it’s just blocks from where the Kings arena will stand. Construction on that arena began with the demolition of Downtown Plaza on Friday and is scheduled to wrap up by the start of the 2016-17 NBA season.
Speaking of Downtown Plaza, that space is another possibility floated. A soccer stadium next door could create a sports campus downtown offering sports synergy in Sacramento.
West Sacramento’s bridge district is next to Raley Field and has several parcels already controlled by local Kings investor Mark Friedman. A new soccer stadium could go up near his so-call barn project—that futuristic concert and restaurant venue is scheduled to begin construction this year.