Elk Grove is considering another step Wednesday in its effort to bring soccer to the city.
The Elk Grove City Council is expected to pursue annexation of nearly 100 acres at 10251 Grant Line Road near Highway 99 to build a massive sports complex that would include up to 16 sports fields and a 9,000-seat stadium that could be expanded for Major League Soccer.
Elk Grove had been working with a consortium led by former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez to bring professional soccer to the region’s second-largest city. Its efforts, however, have been overshadowed by the high-profile effort led by the owners of the minor-league Sacramento Republic FC, whose storybook inaugural season ended with a United Soccer League title.
Though Elk Grove’s MLS bid appears a long shot, the city remains committed to attracting professional soccer, said Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, adding that the city is “ready to go” if plans for a soccer venue in downtown Sacramento fail to materialize.
Núñez’s group, Northern California Soccer LLC, continues to work with the city under an exclusive negotiating agreement that expires at the end of 2016. If Northern California Soccer is awarded an MLS franchise, the stadium’s footprint can be enlarged to accommodate an MLS stadium, said city spokeswoman Kristyn Nelson.
“Elk Grove will continue to be competitive until a final decision is made. Downtown stadiums are really hard to build – most are repurposed or have other sports along with soccer. (MLS) has to play out its downtown strategy first,” Davis said. “If that doesn’t work, we’re ready to go.”
The farm property sits in unincorporated Sacramento County, and city staff believe Elk Grove should annex the land before proceeding with the project. The City Council is expected Wednesday to have staff take the first step by asking the Local Agency Formation Commission to include the land in Elk Grove’s sphere of influence.
The proposed Elk Grove Multi-Sport Park Complex has an estimated price tag of $105.1 million to $117.7 million.
Elk Grove is also a hotbed of youth soccer – about 6,500 youths play soccer in the city, and teams from across the country travel there to compete in tournaments, Davis said. He said a complex will meet that demand and send a message to MLS.
“It will prove to MLS that we have a serious commitment to soccer if we have a soccer complex for families,” Davis said. He said the complex and proposed 9,000-seat venue could also host concerts, graduation ceremonies and other large events.
The city approved the nearly $4.4 million land deal in August to house a future MLS franchise and host youth soccer, and closed escrow in October, bankrolling the deal with money borrowed from the city’s stormwater drainage fund.
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.