Expansion candidates Sacramento Republic FC add Ron Burkle as lead investor

Sacramento Republic FC stadium renderings

Sacramento's MLS expansion bid has added billionaire financier Ron Burkle as its lead investor, it announced Tuesday.

Burkle, who is also part-owner of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, has agreed to buy a controlling interest in Sacramento Republic FC, who will play in the USL Championship in 2019.

“While we held discussions with several potential investors, our focus was, and remains, on finding the right lead investor whose vision for our club and our city best aligns with ours, read an excerpt of a statement from Republic FC chairman & CEO Kevin Nagle. “We are thrilled to announce today that we have found that new lead investor in Ron Burkle.

“Mr. Burkle is an exceptional leader and businessman, a champion sports owner, a dedicated philanthropist, and someone with a deep appreciation for Sacramento. He is the ideal person to lead the next chapter of our club.”

“We have met with Ron Burkle over the course of the past year about his interest in MLS and are very pleased that he has finalized his agreement to become the lead investor of Sacramento Republic FC,” said MLS Executive Vice President Dan Courtemanche.  “Sacramento remains a strong expansion candidate and we look forward to meeting with Ron soon to discuss his plans.” 

Sacramento is one of the cities that have submitted a bid for an MLS expansion team. FC Cincinnati will start play as the league's 24th team this year, with a Nashville team and Inter Miami CF slated to enter the league in 2020 and Austin FC set to begin play in 2021, which would put the league at 27 teams.