ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Major League Soccer may have its eyes on Sacramento, but another local city is sticking with its plan to get a piece of the action.
With sellout after sellout by the Sacramento Republic at Bonney Field, Elk Grove wants to get in the game. Though it’s 20 minutes south of Sacramento, city leaders believe they have a strong shot at scoring a team.
“We are excited we think we have a really good chance to get it,” said Elk Grove City Councilman Jim Cooper.
The effort for an Elk Grove franchise is led by former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. He wants to take the dry fields, and with a $100 million check from the city of Elk Grove, turn the plots into an 18,000-seat soccer stadium.
MLS officials say they prefer downtown stadiums, but Cooper says they can get past that.
“You have a large Hispanic population that would be very supportive of it and there are a number of things that come into play. Also we have two freeways,” Cooper said.
Even if the city can prove a suburban stadium will work, getting an MLS team won’t be any free kick. Elk Grove is also competing with the Republic FC.
The Republic have already shattered USL Pro attendance records in its season split between the larger Hughes Stadium and its Cal Expo location.
The Sacramento Kings’ ownership is also considering becoming major investors in the team, and a pitch by Mayor Kevin Johnson at the MLS All-Star Weekend has officials coming to Sacramento to review possible stadium sites.
Even with all that, Cooper remains confident.
“Elk Grove has a lot of things going for it so we are very excited. And to be honest, I believe we are the front runner,” he said.
Elk Grove leaders say they do not have any planned meetings with MLS leaders at this point. A request for comment from MLS was not returned.