Sacramento Republic FC hires architect for MLS stadium

Continuing its push for a Major League Soccer expansion team, Sacramento Republic FC named an architect Wednesday to design its proposed downtown stadium.

The team announced the hiring of HNTB Corp., whose design credits include Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and Raley Field in West Sacramento, as lead architect of the stadium earmarked for the downtown railyard.

It’s the latest step in the minor-league team’s “Operation Turnkey” initiative, which is designed to complete the logistical steps needed to persuade MLS to grant Republic FC admission to the big league.

“I welcome HNTB to Operation Turnkey,” said Kevin Nagle, the team’s managing partner, in a prepared statement.

The Kansas City, Mo., company has worked on designing sports stadiums, such as the year-old San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara and numerous bridge and highway projects. The 49ers owners are a minority investor in Republic FC. HNTB has also worked on projects at Memorial Stadium at UC Berkeley. Its website says the employee-owned company’s annual revenue totals $1 billion.

HNTB’s hiring came a month after Republic FC named the nationwide firm Legends as project manager for the new stadium. Legends works on stadium management and food concessions at sports venues around the country, and will manage the food and beverage operations at the Kings’ new arena, Golden 1 Center.

“HNTB is thrilled to be part of the momentum rapidly building around Operation Turnkey,” said vice president Lanson Nichols, who will be project director of Republic FC’s stadium, in a prepared statement.

Sacramento, based on the popularity of Republic FC in its two seasons of minor-league play, is believed to be on the short list of cities being considered for an MLS slot after losing out to Minneapolis for a team earlier this year. MLS has indicated it will lay out a process in late 2015 or early 2016 for selecting its next round of teams.

Republic FC’s privately financed stadium, expected to cost upward of $125 million, would be located in the northeast corner of the railyard. A company led by Republic FC minority owner Larry Kelley expects to wrap up its purchase of the railyard in late September, said Kelley’s son Denton Kelley, a partner in the company.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

Related stories from Sacramento Bee