Sacramento, Calif. — Major League Soccer (MLS) and Republic FC have announced a new timeline for the expansion club due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Originally slated to begin MLS play in 2022, Sacramento will now join the league in 2023 in a new, soccer-specific, downtown stadium.
The decision was made by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, in conjunction with the league’s Board of Governors, and the ownership group in Sacramento led by Ron Burkle and in coordination with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
The one-year adjustment to the club’s expansion timeline provides the team with the opportunity to address pandemic-driven challenges in the global construction economy and develop new strategies with local leaders to meet the club and stadium goals to support Sacramento’s workforce and communities facing challenges connected to the global health crisis.
With a longer lead time, the team will be able to address unforeseen challenges that may arise in the months to come as health guidelines and protocols continue to shift and businesses are required to adapt. Changes to the timeline will also provide ownership with a window to revisit elements of the stadium to enhance the fan experience, support community health and wellness through the use of new technologies, and craft a vision for the new entertainment district that will sit adjacent to the stadium, anchoring the largest urban infill project in the country.
“We have always taken a thoughtful and strategic approach to our expansion planning and have delivered successful launches for every new club,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “It is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve. With the extra year to make up for what has been a challenging 2020, these teams will be well-positioned for their debuts and for long-term success.”
“Our goal remains the same – to build the best stadium and MLS club befitting the wonderful Sacramento region. With an additional year, we can better adjust for the impact of the pandemic on our community and identify how we can best serve the neighbors and friends that have supported our club on its rise to Major League Soccer,” said Republic FC Investor Matt Alvarez. “We will bring Sacramento into the top-tier of American soccer ready to compete at a championship level, and create an opportunity to support the next era of regional growth with a world-class venue and a commitment to continued community investment.”
“We know there have been major impacts from the pandemic in every aspect of our great city and we recognize that our MLS project is not impervious to those impacts,” said City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “I applaud how Republic FC has shifted their resources during this time to support those most in need in our community and I have no doubt that we will celebrate a world-class stadium opening and our MLS inaugural season together in 2023.”
To help the club through this unique time, sports and entertainment venue leaders CAA ICON and Mortenson have been selected to support the development and construction of the Railyards Stadium. Mortenson will serve as the general contractor, providing in-depth market insights and innovative construction delivery. As Developer’s Representative, CAA ICON will provide project management services throughout the development, design, and construction of the stadium including design coordination; budget and schedule controls implementation; and oversight of construction and commissioning activities.
CAA ICON, Mortenson and architect HNTB have been responsible for the launch of some of the world’s most cutting-edge facilities – Chase Center in San Francisco, Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara – as well as many of the next generation of soccer-specific venues currently in progress.
In the coming weeks, the club will announce its lead, local construction partner who will support initiatives developed to build economic activity throughout the region.
Preparation for stadium construction continues as adjacent projects and infrastructure work are moving forward throughout The Railyards. City projects that will have a direct connection to Railyards Stadium remain on track and are prepared to launch early next year. Stadium plans have been filed with the City of Sacramento Building Department and the review and approval process are already underway.
With the adjusted timeline to address the complexities of construction related to the pandemic, the Railyards Stadium will now break ground this fall, and implement a project schedule that will have the stadium ready for a full 2023 season. The new construction timeline will incorporate staffing impacts resulting from the pandemic and well as implement design updates to the venue reflective of advanced technology and sustainability to promote health and celebrate the Sacramento region.
Republic FC season ticket members and Railyards Stadium deposit holders retain their priority and seat selection will continue as planned, beginning in 2021. Later this year, fans and local business owners will have a first look at the team’s new premium seating options, beginning with suites this Fall, and club, general admission, and Supporters Section seating set to begin next summer.
Republic FC will remain in United Soccer League’s Championship division through the 2022 season while maintaining preparations for its inaugural season in Major League Soccer. The club’s youth development academy – in operation since 2015 and has generated 12 first-team players – is set to join the new MLS elite youth platform this season featuring year-round competition. The club also continues to develop plans for a high-performance training center in the region that will accommodate the first team and all academy players, with a goal to also include auxiliary fields to host large youth sports tournaments and more.
Visit MLS2SAC.com for stadium information and club updates.
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