Mayor Steinberg’s Major League Soccer proposal deserves strong support

This is what the new Sacramento Republic FC stadium will look like at downtown railyard

Sacramento Republic FC released on April 3, 2019, new renderings for the club’s proposed Major League Soccer stadium in the downtown railyard.
Up Next
Sacramento Republic FC released on April 3, 2019, new renderings for the club’s proposed Major League Soccer stadium in the downtown railyard.

After years of missing its shot, Sacramento has a big chance to finally score a Major League Soccer team. For a modest investment of $33 million in “fee waivers, tax rebates, advertising rights and infrastructure financing,” the city can reap the benefits of massive investment and major league status.

It’s a great opportunity for Sacramento, one that will generate economic activity for decades and create thousands of jobs. We urge the City Council to move forward in approving the proposal, which would use incentives to attract $1 billion worth of investment in our city, said Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

The effort to bring MLS to Sacramento has its critics. They like to point to the city’s challenges, like homelessness, as issues deserving more attention than sports teams. But this isn’t a case of either/or. In a big city, we can and must address multiple issues simultaneously.

Among the details of the proposal, according to The Sacramento Bee’s Tony Bizjak:

Create an infrastructure financing district to “capture tax revenue to pay for up to an estimated $27.2 million in infrastructure around the stadium.” This infrastructure would include “new streets, pedestrian walkways, a major sewer line and a light rail station.”

Provide a combined $5.4 million worth of permit fee waivers and funding commitments for traffic control and policing on streets near the stadium during games.

Rewrite the city’s signage ordinance to allow the team to put up five digital billboards around town, with the possible option for a sixth if the team builds a training facility and fields for youth soccer. The signs will “likely will come at no cost to the city, but could be worth tens of millions of dollars in promotions and advertising to the team.”

Placement of the new digital billboards will undoubtedly spur passionate debate and controversy, but – all in all – this is a great deal for Sacramento.

“Getting Major League Soccer will create new energy and excitement in our city, but that’s not all it will do,” said Steinberg. “Our agreement with Ron Burkle and his team is about far more than a stadium and a professional sports team. This is about the development of 17 acres around the stadium in The Railyards – a total of nearly $1 billion in private investment … The benefits of the agreement we’ll be voting on tonight astronomically outweigh the costs to the City.”

To his credit, Mayor Steinberg has worked hard to address Sacramento’s most pressing challenges. Thanks to his leadership, the voters of Sacramento approved Measure U, which increased the sales tax to fund city services. The mayor has a $36 million plan to reduce homelessness over the next two years, and City Council members are announcing plans to locate triage shelters in their districts as part of the mayor’s “8 x 100” plan.

On the city’s biggest problems, Mayor Steinberg has stepped up. He’s more than earned the right to push for the Sacramento Republic FC to become an MLS team, which will benefit to the city.

While a soccer team won’t solve all of Sacramento’s challenges, it will help spur continued development at the Sacramento Railyards. The city has ambitious plans for the former site of the Transcontinental Railroad’s terminus, including “dense urban residential neighborhoods,” a Kaiser Permanente medical center, a courthouse, shopping and a museum. A new, privately-financed soccer stadium would give the project a big boost.

Bringing another major league team to Sacramento will be a win for our city, our region and our economy. The proposal deserves strong support.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee