Downtown Railyards Offers Sacramento Its Best Shot At Major League Soccer Team

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento’s downtown railyards are seeing the potential for progress after years of promises, with the city hoping to see a big impact from the site.

A group called the Capital Public Finance Group released what they say are key numbers where a Major League Soccer stadium could create 1,700 jobs with upwards of 130 people hired after it opens. It also says the city could see nearly $1 million a year in direct fiscal benefits.

The stadium is contingent on MLS granting Sacramento a team. The city was considered a contender in the last round, but the most recent team was granted to Minneapolis as the league was reportedly focused on Midwestern expansion.

But Sacramento has been floated as a frontrunner for future expansion, though it’s not clear when the league will plan to expand again. With the addition of New York City and Orlando, MLS will reach 20 teams. The expansion round that included Minneapolis will bring the league to 24 teams. However, stadium concerns have a David Beckham-backed bid in Miami in doubt.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in April he expected to announce its expansion plans beyond those 24 teams within six months—which would be October at the latest. Teams included in that expansion plan, however, likely would not field a team until after 2020.

Now it falls on the Sacramento Downtown Partnership to sell the stadium idea to both MLS and private investors.

“We’re calling this report the critical mass report,” said Cathy Dominico with Capital Public Finance Group.

The report paints the picture of a thriving, revitalized Sacramento railyards bustling with economic activity centered around a professional soccer stadium. The vision would be part of one of the largest urban infill projects in the country.

“An MLS Stadium is another key piece to bring people into the region,” she said.

Construction of the proposed MLS stadium is estimated at $150 million, with 65 percent of that being spent locally, according to a Sacramento Downtown Partnership report.

Those worried the city would be shouldering the cost of this stadium and the future home of the Sacramento Kings—the Golden 1 Center—will be relieved to hear where the money is coming from.

“This is 100 percent privately financed soccer stadium,” said Kanul Merchant with Sac Soccer and Entertainment Holdings.

Rick Meeker hopes the city can sell MLS on the stadium idea so small businesses like his could cash in.

“I have a very small company. I have about 12 full-time employees,” he said. “From a builder’s point of view on small scale everything trickles down to us.”

If the bids in Minneapolis or in Miami fall through, or if another opportunity arises, the partnership says construction on a new stadium could begin next fall if Sacramento is picked.

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