Sacramento’s new pro soccer team still seeking stadium deal

Sacramento’s new pro soccer team has a name, a logo and a head coach, and it is taking deposits for season tickets. But, officially, it still doesn’t have a home field.

Ten months after the team was born – and announced it would play its home games at Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium – officials with Sacramento Republic FC are still negotiating with the college on a lease. An exclusive negotiating window, during which the two sides were to work out a deal, expired in June.

Nevertheless, the school and the team said they’re optimistic an agreement is within reach.

“We’re working out terms,” said Bob Martinelli, the school’s vice president of administrative services. Martinelli said sticking points include food concessions and availability of parking spaces on campus.

Warren Smith, head of the Sacramento Republic ownership group, said the team is “still fully expecting” to play at Hughes. He said the expiration of the negotiating window is “just a technicality.”

Sacramento Republic is scheduled to make its USL Pro debut in March. The league is the rough equivalent of Triple-A baseball, with a huge difference: Having a USL Pro franchise is widely seen as a stepping stone to Major League Soccer. In recent years, four USL Pro teams have been admitted to the MLS as expansion teams.

City College completed a $13 million renovation to Hughes Stadium last year, including new locker rooms and artificial turf. But the 20,000-seat stadium still presents a soccer team with size problems. Its soccer field is 65 yards wide, or 10 yards shy of what’s considered ideal for professional soccer, Martinelli said.

Nonetheless, Smith said the field meets minimum standards and has been approved for play by USL Pro President Tim Holt.

Smith, a former River Cats executive, was awarded the franchise in December and immediately announced the team would make Hughes its home field.