Sacramento Republic FC officials released new drawings for their planned $226 million Major League Soccer stadium Wednesday, the day before the commissioner of MLS was due to visit the city.
The new architectural renderings highlight the team’s goal of placing fans close to the action, particularly members of the intensely loyal Tower Bridge Battalion supporters group. The stadium will feature a section at the north end where Tower Bridge members will be able to stand for the entire game.
Tower Bridge members will be provided with a pulley system for hoisting banners, an exclusive entrance into the 25,000-seat stadium and their own “beer hall” concession area, said Gerardo Prado, sports group director at HNTB in Kansas City, Kan., the stadium’s architect. Prado said the stadium will also feature a setup for battalion members to launch artificial fog.
Prado said the concept will be similar to the “hinchada” approach in his native Argentina, where booster clubs take over a section of the stadium.
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There also will be a pair of “standing room bridges” where casual fans – those who don’t belong to the Tower Bridge Battalion – can overlook the battalion’s section and get food and drink.
Prado said the plan is “to create an authentic soccer atmosphere” that intimidates visiting teams.
The stadium is proposed for 16 acres in the northeast corner of the downtown Sacramento railyard. The land is controlled by developer Larry Kelley, a Republic FC minority partner, and team officials have said the project will be privately financed.
Republic FC will build the stadium only if Sacramento is granted admission to MLS.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott are scheduled to make a whirlwind visit to the city Thursday, including a massive midday block party with fans in downtown. Although Abbott made a high-profile trip to Sacramento in 2014, this will be Garber’s first visit to the city since minor-league Republic FC grabbed MLS’ attention with its remarkable run of sellouts at its makeshift home stadium, Bonney Field at Cal Expo.
Although other cities are seeking teams, Sacramento is considered a front-runner in MLS’ somewhat complicated expansion race. Republic FC was unable to leapfrog Minneapolis-St. Paul and Miami, which have been awarded the league’s 23rd and 24th franchises despite their difficulties in building new stadiums. Now that both of those markets are finally making progress on stadium development, MLS announced in December that it plans to add four more teams, to a total of 28, at some point in the foreseeable future. The league still hasn’t established a timetable for the additional four franchises.