SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After being awarded a Major League Soccer expansion franchise, the first order of business for Sacramento is to enjoy the moment.
It's been a long time coming, with plenty of ups and downs, so Monday is about enjoying the day and reflecting on the process. But Tuesday? It's back to work.
Sacramento Republic, which will begin play in MLS in 2022, soon will resume full focus in getting ready for that day they've long dreamed of. It will come in a beautiful, brand new $300 million, 20,100-seat soccer stadium in the downtown Railyards District. That stadium is at the forefront of the club and city's mind.
"One of the beauties of today, among many, is that the stadium project already has its planning entitlements," Sacramento Mayor Darren Steinberg told media on Monday. "There's no hold-up, the work begins. I'm sure there'll be a groundbreaking and all that, but we've got to get ready for the 2022 season. There's a lot of work. Today we revel, tomorrow we get back to work. It's all good from here. I'm just so proud of my community."
The club currently play their USL Championship matches at Papa Murphy's Park but will move into their new home when they join MLS.
"We got to build a stadium," owner Matt Alvarez said succinctly. "Our first game will be February of 2022, so our stadium will be done January of 2022. First order of business is stadium, then in about six months we'll really start focusing on the technical side."
One of the inherent benefits of their expansion bid being a long journey is the club have had plenty of time and planning into what would come next.
"We had the benefit of having great local ownership group with Kevin Nagle, he did a lot of work for us to come in and be ahead of the curve," Alvarez said. "We know the stadium we're building, we spent a lot of time on the building. We traveled around the United States and looked at all the new buildings in MLS. We think we've taken the best of all of them and put them into our building."
Alvarez added he expects groundbreaking to come in May or June of 2020.
"The project has actually already started," owner Kevin Nagle admitted. We started doing some work before we ever got approval. That's continued slowly, but we're a lot further ahead of what others would really think. There are some re-works that have been done, and those will be implemented. We'll be ready by 2022."
"Our design phase is done," Alvarez added. "We have some land work to do, some city approvals to go through, then we'll breakdown. We're 90% construction drawings, the stadium is designed and approved. We're ready to go, we just have a few housekeeping things to do."
The stadium will be another milestone of the many the club will pass over the next two and a half years before joining MLS. One day in the not-so-distant future they'll name a head coach, front office and begin signing players. Before long, the Republic will debut in MLS.
"What's next?" Nagle asked himself. "A lot will be next. One great achievement will beget many more. The word spreads quickly."