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Sacramento to be awarded MLS expansion team next week, report says

The California capital will finally have a reason to build the stadium they’ve had planned for years.

A years-long courtship between Sacramento and Major League Soccer is finally set to blossom into an expansion slot.

The ownership group behind the Sacramento Republic’s bid to move up from USL will be awarded an MLS franchise Monday, according to a report from the Sacramento Bee. The California state capital will be the league’s 29th team, and the announcement is planned for Monday.

Sacramento has been trying for years to get an MLS team. When the Republic won the USL championship in the team’s debut season, which also set league attendance records, fans chanted “MLS! MLS!” during the trophy ceremony.

But despite a rabid fanbase and plans in motion for a stadium just outside of downtown, Sacramento’s bid lost steam as the newest teams entering the league were backed by increasingly wealthier investors. The addition earlier this year of billionaire Ron Burkle, owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the existing group in Sacramento seemed to help push the bid over the line.

The Sacramento ownership group started pre-construction on the stadium site for an MLS team in 2017, and said the stadium could be ready by 2020. But stadium construction and development of the planned site had been put on hold as MLS weighed its decision, and now the stadium is expected to be ready by 2022. The Republic released new renderings of their planned stadium in April.

The Bee report does not say when the Sacramento MLS team will launch, but St. Louis was awarded an expansion team in August that will take the field in 2022.

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