ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Elk Grove is hoping to score a professional soccer team after the city bought a huge plot of land, but it’s facing stiff competition from Sacramento.
Both cities will get a visit from Major League Soccer officials in the fall, but the MLS commissioner is on record saying his league prefers soccer stadiums to be built in the heart of major cities.
But Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis says his city is very much a contender.
“If you build a stadium and have a team, thousands of people are going to come and watch games,” he said.
That’s why they approved the purchase of this piece of land with plans to turn it into an 18,000-seat soccer stadium. It’s shovel-ready and ready to be introduced to MLS officials.
“They committed to us months ago, and said they would come to our site when we have one,” he said. “So they’re definitely coming here and we are looking forward to showing it to them.”
But is a piece of land enough to persuade MLS officials? With no team, and the playoff-bound Sacramento Republic FC already in talks with the league, how good is Elk Grove’s chance?
The city is facing a stadium financing plan. That, along with former state Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez’s efforts to bring a team to Elk Grove, leaves city leaders believing they have a good lead.
“What we are looking to do with MLS ultimately takes soccer to a totally new level,” Nunez said.
With no guarantees, the city went ahead with a nearly $4.5 million land purchase that Davis says wasn’t a waste.
“We have a lot of ideas for economic development activities through youth soccer, youth baseball, a university,” he said.
Friday morning, MLS confirmed that Mark Abbott – President & Deputy Commissioner of the league – will visit Elk Grove in his next trip to Sacramento. The date for the visit, however, is still undetermined.