Mayor: Major League Soccer meeting productive; no timeline for expansion decision

Rendering of the proposed Sacramento Republic downtown stadium.
Rendering of the proposed Sacramento Republic downtown stadium.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said a local contingent seeking to join the ranks of Major League Soccer feels “very strongly about what we’re doing” after meeting with league executives Thursday in New York.

Speaking in a telephone interview as he sat on a plane about to leave New York, the mayor said he had not received a clear indication from MLS of what the next steps would be in the league’s expansion process. Groups from Minneapolis and Las Vegas also met with MLS officials Thursday as the league considers adding one more team by the end of this decade.

“This was a chance for us to tell our Sacramento story and what we’ve done and how committed we are to demonstrate that we are a city and community worthy and waiting to be in the MLS family,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the local contingent is prepared to make its case to the league’s board of governors in December, when the team owners meet for the annual MLS Cup title match. MLS officials have said they do not expect to make a decision on expansion until next year, but could discuss the topic at their December meeting.

“We had productive expansion meetings (Thursday) with representatives from Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Sacramento,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in an emailed statement. “We were impressed with the presentations made by each group. Following our MLS Board of Governors meeting on December 6, we will provide an update on the expansion process and timeline.”

MLS will field 20 teams next season, with franchises in Atlanta and Los Angeles scheduled to join the league in 2017. Miami has been awarded the 23rd spot but won’t get the franchise until a new stadium is built there.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.