The acquisition of United Soccer League club Sacramento Republic FC by prospective MLS owners Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings was announced on Monday, as the city continues to push for a spot in the next round of MLS expansion.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who was part of the formal announcement along with Sac Soccer Chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle and Republic FC President Warren Smith, said the aim is to take Republic FC into MLS.
“Sacramento is unified behind Republic FC, and our bid for MLS has no equal,” Steinberg said, in announcing the #BringItHome campaign. “No community has worked longer or advanced further than Sacramento to demonstrate our readiness to be a Major League Soccer city. Our record-breaking fan base, shovel-ready stadium plan and committed ownership group are unrivaled."
Sacramento is one of 12 cities contending for four expansion slots, with two of those spots expected to be announced sometime this year. The bid that was submitted by the Sacramento group did not originally include Republic FC, who have regularly boasted one of the highest attendances in USL since joining the league in 2014 and winning the title in their inaugural year.
Less than a week after the January 31 deadline for cities to submit their expansion bids, Nagle's group reached an agreement in principle to acquire Republic FC, paving the way for Monday's announcement. Though the terms of the agreement will remain confidential, it does ensure that the Republic FC name and brand will be attached to the city's expansion bid.
The Sacramento City Council had previously approved plans for a 20,000-capacity MLS stadium at the city's historic downtown railyard.
Nagle, whose ownership group also includes San Francisco 49ers principal owner Jed York and former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman also stressed the theme of unity in his remarks following the announcement of the deal.
“Today we stand as one club and one community,” Nagle said. “I thank the mayor and Warren for helping formalize what all of us wanted from Day One: for Republic FC to represent Sacramento at the MLS level, as it has done so successfully in the USL. But as proud as I am of what we’ve accomplished, I know now is not the time to be complacent. #BringItHome is about taking an already strong bid and making it even stronger by refocusing our efforts on what got us into the MLS conversation in the first place: the incredible people of Sacramento.”
Smith, the club's co-founder, gave credit to the club's staff and supporters as well.
"For me, this was and will always be about Sacramento and making it a better place to live, work and play," Smith said, "and as we enter this final phase of our pursuit to be an MLS club through #BringItHome, it only makes sense that we put our fans and community front and center. After all, we are a Republic and Sacramento is our home.”