SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento joins three other cities in moving one step closer to attaining a Major League Soccer expansion franchise. The four finalists were announced, Wednesday and included Sacramento, Nashville, Cincinnati, and Detroit.
The effort to bring professional soccer to Sacramento has been years in the making, from MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s first visit more than a year ago; to the approval of a privately funded stadium that will fill 10 percent of the Railyards development.
There has also been some controversy surrounding the ownership group that has since been resolved.
“Our bid stands alone in the amount of preparedness,” said Ben Gumpert, with Sac Soccer & Entertainment.
Sacramento Republic FC and city leadership say they’re ready to bring home the MLS.
“You play to your strengths,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, “and you go into these conversations with confidence.”
Steinberg will help make the final pitch for MLS to league executives.
“I remember the intensity of it,” said Steinberg.
He’s been there before, as the head of the state Senate, when making a push to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
“We had a great success there, and I am very optimistic that we should have the same success now,” said Steinberg.
But other cities are making moves as well. Detroit is banking on the Motown sports reputation, while Nashville is feeding off a fervor of fan support.
“The announcement this morning continues the momentum and the energy that we’ve seen,” said Gary Smith, the Nashville SC coach.
And Cincinnati cleared a major hurdle when elected leaders approved a stadium deal in recent weeks.
“The vision of what FC Cincinnati represents is something that is exciting for the city,” said Jeff Berding, the team’s president and general manager, “It represents growth.”
There is tightening competition, but Sacramento leaders remain confident.
“I’d put ourselves up against all three of those cities anytime, anyplace,” said Steinberg.
Representatives from the four cities and organizations will make their pitch to MLS executives next week. A decision is expected before the end of the year.