MLS Commissioner Don Garber provided an update Monday on the status of Sacramento's expansion bid and the possibility of other bids to become MLS' 30th club, noting that Sacramento remain in the running but nothing has yet been decided.
With MLS continuing to expand, plans were in place for clubs Nos. 27-30. Austin FC join in 2021, Charlotte FC in 2022 then St. Louis and Sacramento were set to join a year after that.
At the end of February, though, Ron Burkle, lead investor of Sacramento's expansion, informed MLS he decided not to move forward with the project. The announcement cast doubt on Sacramento's long-standing desire to acquire an MLS club.
“On Sacramento, I call this expansion project leading up to this season as a COVID casualty," Garber said. "We had a lot of momentum, we were working very closely with Ron Burkle, Mayor [Darrell] Steinberg and other local leaders to launch a great new team. There’s still a lot of energy in Sacramento. It’s a good soccer market. Mayor Steinberg is very focused on putting a new ownership group together, we’re going to work with him to see what can be achieved."
The city was awarded an expansion team in October 2019 and had been due to begin play in 2022 before that date was pushed back a year due to the early impact of the pandemic in 2020. Now, that bid is in question without a lead investor.
Sacramento now face competition for that 30th expansion slot, with Garber noting that they're not the only market in the running.
“Right now, there are other markets we are looking at," Garber said. "Whether that be Las Vegas, San Diego or Phoenix, we’ll see how all of those develop to see who will be our 30th team.”
Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego have been oft-mentioned as potential candidates for an MLS club and have publicly stated their desire to bring the league to their respective cities.