SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — With a billionaire investor, a fully-funded stadium and the city’s full backing, Major League Soccer still looked past Sacramento Tuesday, officially awarding St. Louis it’s newest expansion franchise.
CBS13’s Steve Large spoke to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg about the decision.
“First of all I congratulate Saint Louis, but I’m not the least bit worried,” Steinberg said.
We asked if the $200 million expansion fee is playing a role in negotiations.
“Yes. Well look it, the fee went up from $150 million to $200 million, and yes that makes it a little more complicated,” Steinberg said.
Billionaire Ron Burkle came in as the lead investor for the proposed soccer franchise in January.
In April, Sports Illustrated reported Burkle was quote “recalibrating” after Major League Soccer increased its expansion “buy-in” fee to $200 million. Mayor Steinberg would not comment on who is paying that fee.
Major League Soccer toured Sacramento as an expansion site five years ago, and the league has praised the city often.
According to the Sacramento Bee, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in 2015: “I believe that Sacramento belongs in the MLS.”
In 2016: “They’ve been able to check the boxes that are required.”
And in 2019: “Sacramento has done an amazing job.”
“The public will know about it when it is done and when we are successful,” Steinberg said.
In five years time, five cities have passed Sacramento, to earn MLS expansion franchises. MLS Soccer in Sacramento has become more of a waiting game as St. Louis becomes Major League Soccer’s 28th team.
The league has said it will expand to 30 teams, but there is no time frame for when that expansion will happen.