Sacramento MLS Bid Hopeful Ahead Of April League Meetings
MLS is not expected to make a final decision on its latest expansion club during a league meeting next month, but the Sacramento group bidding for a team is "treating the moment as its final audition," according to Tony Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. L.A. businessman Matt Alvarez, who is part of the prospective ownership group along with Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle, said the "clock is ticking" on Sacramento's bid. Alvarez and Burkle "represent the key new element to Sacramento's bid." USL club Sacramento Republic officials and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg "recruited the pair two months ago after MLS officials indicated the local effort needed better financial backing." Alvarez said that he and Burkle joined the effort because they have been "looking for a joint sport venture and view Sacramento as a city that has grown substantially." He and Burkle "signed an agreement to take control" of Sacramento Republic and build a new $300M stadium, "contingent on the MLS granting the city a franchise." The new ownership group, which will include current Republic FC Chair & CEO Kevin Nagle and "possibly other Sacramento investors, would pay MLS a franchise fee" of at least $150M. Alvarez said that the Sacramento effort has been in "almost daily contact with MLS officials in recent weeks," and he believes that it has "done everything the league has asked" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/14).
ONE DOOR OPENS...: In Indianapolis, Matthew Glenesk noted USL club Indy Eleven's "hope of being included" in MLS expansion "appears to have been dealt a blow." MLS Commissioner Don Garber on Tuesday said that St. Louis and Sacramento are the "two markets atop the league's expansion wish list." After that, Garber said that Charlotte, Las Vegas and Phoenix are "options for further expansion." This comes after Indy Eleven Owner Ersal Ozdemir proposed a project that would include a $150M stadium and $400M in "restaurants, stores, offices and apartments" in Indianapolis. However, the requirements for MLS expansion appear to have "thrown a wrench in the plans" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/13).