Is Sacramento getting an MLS team?
And does the city's soccer stadium deal make sense?
If Sacramento promises to build it, will Major League Soccer come?
That’s what Republic FC owners and city leaders were hoping this week, when city council was poised to approve construction of another downtown home for a local sports team.
But unlike the Kings arena, the Republic’s proposed 25,000-seat stadium would be more or less privately financed—save for infrastructure contributions by the city and $100,000 to pay for project consultants.
This nonbinding Republic soccer stadium term sheet was released the day before Thanksgiving and was scheduled to be voted on just six days later, December 1. That’s not a huge amount of time to marinate on the deal, so here’s a quick rundown on Sac’s soccer stadium strategy:
Taxpayers really aren’t going to pay for a dime of this new stadium?
Sort of. The stadium’s footprint is estimated at 16 acres, and $2.9 million in “public infrastructure benefits” (think roads, lights, sewers) from the city, state and federal governments already has been spent on each acre. That means, technically, the city pitched in $46 million of the stadium’s proposed $226 million price tag. The remainder, $180 million, will be privately financed by the team’s operating group, called Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings LLC. The term sheet doesn’t say whether the team will pay infrastructure fees to offset government contributions.
Is that construction price tag realistic?
Minnesota United FC was granted an expansion team this past year, ahead of Sacramento, and estimates for the construction of its new stadium in Minneapolis are around $120 million.
In nearby San Jose, the Earthquakes moved into Avaya Stadium this year, which cost $100 million to build.
How much money will the stadium bring in for the city?
The city of Sacramento will take in 50 percent of the stadium parking revenues, for 6,500 spaces, and won’t have to operate the lots during soccer games, concerts and other outdoor events. The city estimates that it will make its investment back from new taxes, fees and development kickstarted by the stadium, which will be located at the northeast end of the vacant railyards lot.
Are we getting a pro soccer team or what?
MLS will only grant Sacramento an expansion team if there’s a league-approved stadium in the region. The term sheet is, again, nonbinding. But it’s the framework of a deal, presumably in good faith, between the city and SSEH. And it’s also the final piece of Mayor Kevin Johnson and the team’s “Operation Turnkey,” a marketing strategy to persuade MLS that Sacramento can handle a pro team. The goal is to open the new stadium in March 2018.
MLS already has a full expansion roster set for 2020, when it will jump to 24 teams in the league from 20. Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Miami are the four new squads—although Miami has yet to lock in a stadium deal, and this week its plan fell apart.
There’s been zero public comment by MLS regarding the addition of more than 24 teams.