Marcos Breton

Connecting the dots on issues, people and news in the Sacramento region

Marcos Breton: Kings owners in talks to buy Sacramento’s Republic FC soccer club

08/03/2014 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 12:11 PM

Even as they begin building a new downtown arena, the owners of the Kings are in discussions to expand their footprint in the region by buying Sacramento Republic FC – the minor league soccer team selling out games locally since April.

There is no agreement in place yet between the Kings and the Republic, but the Kings owners are interested in the idea of investing in the franchise and elevating it to the level of Major League Soccer, America’s premier soccer league, according to sources with knowledge of the talks. They declined to speak publicly because the deal isn’t completed.

This week, Kings President Chris Granger will travel to Portland to meet with MLS officials along with current Republic owner Warren Smith. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is also expected to attend the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday.

A source close to Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive said he sees soccer as a “tremendous opportunity for a larger vision of growth in Sacramento.” Soccer also fits with Ranadive’s interest of investing in sports that can create excitement not only locally but also internationally.

The prospect of Ranadive and the Kings suddenly materializing as legitimate players in a Sacramento pitch to MLS caps a dizzying few months for the little soccer team started by Smith, a former River Cats executive.

From the beginning, Smith planned on laying the groundwork for MLS by creating excitement around a minor league team in Sacramento that was built to grow. Part of that plan was to use the success of the Republic to entice investors and the capital needed to run an MLS franchise.

It worked. The Republic has drawn more than 118,000 fans to its games this year, smashing the attendance record of their current league, USL Pro. At the same time, the Sacramento market produced some of the highest TV ratings in America for the recent World Cup.

“Clearly the support for the Republic has been noticed by all of us,” said Dan Courtemanche, executive vice president of communications for MLS. “It’s been incredible what we’ve seen week in and week out.”

Amid growing momentum, Smith began quietly talking to minority Kings owner Kevin Nagle, a successful businessman based in El Dorado Hills. Nagle, in turn, began talking to his partners with the Kings. It was then that talks between the Kings and the Republic intensified.

About This Blog

Hello, my name is Marcos Breton, and I'm the news columnist with The Sacramento Bee. What's a columnist supposed to do? I'm supposed to make you think, make you laugh, make you mad or make you see an issue in a different way. I also write a weekly baseball column during the baseball season. I am a native of Northern California and the son of Mexican immigrants. I've been at The Bee for more than 20 years, and I love Sacramento.

Contact Marcos Breton at mbreton@sacbee.com or 916-321-1096.
Twitter: @MarcosBreton
Facebook

 

Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service