Discussion of the economic impact of professional soccer in Elk Grove was the last item on the council's agenda, but it was moved up after dozens of youths wearing blue and orange jerseys filed into the chamber, filling the audience seats and standing around the perimeter of the room.
Economic Development Coordinator Heather Neff presented a fiscal impact study showing a professional soccer stadium could leave the city budget in a $5 million deficit, depending on financing options.
"That's the gap we have to fill to keep it revenue neutral," said City Manager Laura Gill, who recommended the council continue negotiating with Northern California Soccer, an ownership group led by former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Sacramento sports attorney Richard Hyde.
Three people spoke against the costs of a soccer facility during public comment, but players and coaches wearing jerseys of the FC Elk Grove youth soccer program rewarded each speaker supporting the project with applause.
Trent Slagle, a 14-year-old Katherine L. Albiani Middle School student, addressed the council wearing his No. 22 jersey.
"Having a team here would be one of the greatest things to ever happen in my life," he said, choking back tears to an ovation.
Nunez and Hyde addressed the council, speaking of the city's reputation as a "hotbed for soccer activity" and promising a transparent process in pursuing a professional team.
Elk Grove lawmakers expressed caution in their vote to move forward on considering soccer facility project that could include a $100 million arena, according to a feasibility report.
"If we cannot get to a sum zero, it's not something I will support," said Vice Mayor Steven Detrick, who said he coached soccer in Elk Grove.
Elk Grove's plans for a Major League Soccer franchise put the city in competition with Sacramento, which is also in the market for a big-league soccer team.