Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said Thursday that Sacramento is being considered as a potential expansion city for the nation’s premier professional soccer league.
Garber told reporters during a conference call that Sacramento, Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Diego and San Antonio are among the cities the league is exploring as it plans to expand from 21 to 24 teams over the next six years.
“There are some activities going on in Northern California. There have been some discussions in Southern California, in San Diego,” Garber said, according to The Associated Press. “There are lots and lots of opportunities that we’ve looked at in Texas. As you know, we’ve been down in San Antonio recently. So I think the league is poised for more teams in time. But we’re going to be careful about ensuring that we get them into the league at the right time and when the league can handle it from a player perspective and from a resource perspective.”
Sacramento’s new pro soccer franchise – Republic FC – will debut next month in the lower-division USL Pro league. Team officials have said they are setting a goal of getting promoted to MLS.
As recently as December, Garber left Sacramento off a list of cities that MLS considered serious expansion possibilities.
Team President Warren Smith said Republic FC has “been working hard to make our case to MLS.” He pointed to a tentative deal reached recently to construct an 8,000-seat stadium for the team at Cal Expo that will include an MLS regulation-sized field as progress toward making the city’s case to MLS.
“Even though (MLS) didn’t make those comments publicly before, they have made comments to us that they like the market,” Smith said. “I’m not gratified until we accomplish the goal (of landing an MLS franchise), but it’s nice to know we’re actually getting traction.”
Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.