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Sacramento Republic FC, a franchise that currently plays in the lower-tier United Soccer League, is set to join MLS as its 29th team. The team’s ownership group includes local businessman and healthcare entrepreneur Kevin Nagle, billionaire Ron Burkle, who is part-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, and Hollywood producer Matt Alvarez.
While MLS officials have declined to comment on the situation, the Sacramento Bee reported that Monday’s announcement was related to the Republic’s long-pursued expansion bid. The team’s ownership group said it will “be joined by Mayor Darrell Steinberg and special guests for a major soccer announcement on Monday, October 21st at 11:30 am PT regarding the future of soccer in Sacramento.”
"We share the great excitement and anticipation in our community about Sacramento’s bid to join Major League Soccer,” the Sacramento Republic said in a statement posted to the team’s Twitter account. “We will continue to respect the MLS expansion process and remain confident about the future of our club and our city. We look forward to sharing more information in the days ahead."
MLS officials have said the ownership group awarded its 29th franchise will pay a $200 million expansion fee to join the league. A St. Louis-based group was granted the MLS’ 28th franchise last August, also in exchange for a $200 million fee.
The average MLS franchise was worth $240 million as of November 2018, according to Forbes.
Sacramento was long rumored as the frontrunner for MLS’ next team. Republic FC has already committed to begin construction on a $252 million, 20,000-seat facility in downtime Sacramento. The stadium will be privately funded and will not make use of any public tax subsidies.
In total, the Sacramento ownership group is expected to invest $500 million to $600 million in the team’s expansion plans, according to the Sacramento Bee. A fan event is set to take place after the announcement.