SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — With Sacramento’s efforts to bring an MLS expansion team to the city already in serious doubt after a lead investor backed out of the deal last week, the plan took another hit on Monday.
Ben Gumpert, the president and COO of Sacramento Republic FC, announced that he is stepping down from those positions.READ MORE: El Dorado County Braces For Flooding After Caldor Fire
Gumpert didn’t give a reason for his departure in a statement posted to the team’s website on Monday, but did say he would be staying on as an advisor.
After over four years of life-changing learnings, challenges, tears, laughs, smiles, setbacks, celebrations, and foundational friendships, today I announce that I will be stepping down from my role as President & COO of @SacRepublicFC #ItTakesARepublic https://t.co/oESxLp4zPa
— Ben Gumpert (@bgumpert) March 1, 2021
“I am still confident that a first-class investor will emerge who recognizes the potential of this club and city, and that MLS remains in Sacramento’s future,” Gumpert wrote.
Last week, Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle announced that he would be pulling out of the deal.READ MORE: Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Barred From Caring For Bears Until It Makes Changes To Enclosure
The coronavirus pandemic was cited by MLS as a key role in Burkle’s decision.
“Earlier today, Ron Burkle informed the League that based on issues with the project related to COVID-19, he has decided to not move forward with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team in Sacramento,” the league said in a statement.
Sacramento had been awarded an MLS expansion team back in October 2019. The team was expected to debut in 2022, with Sacramento Republic FC – the city’s United Soccer League team – expected to make the jump.
A new stadium was in the planning stages at The Railyards in Sacramento, but the pandemic forced building delays.MORE NEWS: Kings Home Opener Brings Life To Downtown, Stresses Business
Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Sacramento will still be working with MLS to find a new lead investor.