SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Just when you may have thought the chances were sunk, a whale has come to the surface to keep the hope of Major League Soccer in the Capital City afloat.
Billionaire Ron Burkle just bought a huge chunk of the Republic FC.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg made the announcement at the Sacramento State of Downtown Tuesday. Within hours, he was on the phone to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber.
CBS13’s Steve Large asked the mayor about the exchange.
Large: “I know you have Don Garber’s personal cell phone, you guys text and what not, was it a text conversation? Did you reach out to him, did he reach out to you?”
Mayor Steinberg: “We talked this afternoon, we had a planned phone call. I gave the speech this morning. But we’ve been in communication throughout the course of the year.”
Steinberg said Commissioner Garber is pleased with Ron Burkle’s addition to the Republic FC investment team. But exactly how much a successful MLS bid will cost?
Large: “One of the things that was unclear was how much money. Do you have a sense now, how much money?”
Mayor Steinberg: “Well no, because one of the things that is a tenant of the deal is that it’s privately financed.”
Ron Burkle is worth several billion dollars. He twice made offers to buy the Sacramento Kings and keep them here, when the then-owner Maloof brothers were seeking deals to move their team.
Burkle’s move caught the brothers by surprise back in 2011.
“Tell Ron Burkle that he can go back to where he came from,” Gavin Maloof said then. “We like him, but we’re not selling.”
Photos show Burkle and Steinberg together during that Kings saga. One picture shows them at the Capitol. Another, in a meeting room ahead of a key NBA vote on keeping the Kings in town.
Now Burkle is back again. The billionaire investor Major League Soccer wanted in Sacramento, just became a lead investor in the Republic FC.
Burkle bought the team from Kevin Nagle, who had been the lead investor since the team’s first season in 2015.
Next up, Burkle and Steinberg head to New York for a face-to-face meeting with the Commissioner to present their bid for an MLS team.