Can Sacramento be a viable location for the next MLS franchise? Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Can Sacramento Sustain An MLS Team?

Sacramento’s FC Republic face uphill battle to obtain MLS team.

20,231 people. When it comes to Major League Soccer  attendance figures, this is a pretty significant number, especially for a team not even part of the league. This is the case of the Sacramento Republic FC who are vying for the final MLS franchise up for grabs in the expansion era.However, while the league itself is in the middle of an expansion boom see Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, and New York, the question still stands: can Sacramento be a viable market for the league. California boasts a population of 38 million residents, but the state capital can only claim a little of above 475,000 of them.  There are already several teams in the Golden State including the San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy, Chivas USA

Sacramento has sold 5,000 season tickets for its inaugural USL Pro season. The team is hopeful of garnering a team while the league is looking to expand by only a reported one more team by 2020.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

SuperClasico in Los Angeles, 2013:Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports


Sacramento stands at the 20th largest market in the US, one spot behind Orlando , who will debut in MLS in 2015, but ahead of Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, and Columbus. All three of which have won an MLS cup since the inception of the league. When it comes down to it, the future will be drawn out of the sustainability of the television market. If this is the case, it does not bode well for Sacremento. While the future success will likely be determined off of the potential TV markets, the natural geographic rivalry which could exist between nearby San Jose Earthquakes and Sacramento Republic are juicy. They illicit scenes of the fierce rivalries 750 miles to the north between the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Portland Timbers as they compete for the Cascadia Cup. Further south, the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA compete in the  SuperClasico.

Sacramento is set to open an 8,000 seat stadium later in 2014. This is much lower than the expect 20,000 + seat expectation of an expansion team’s stadium capacity.Earlier in the year, MLS Commisioner Don Garber did mention Sacramento as a potential expansion location.

Sacramento Republic FC still has a long way to go in becoming a viable site for an MLS franchise.Theyl face a steep up-hill battle in order to obtain one of the final expansion teams up for grabs in MLS. Ultimately, the seeds are being sown now to set the final MLS team into bloom.  

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Tags: MLS

  • martinvickers

    20,000+. Keep even 75% of that, and Sacremento gets team 24, no questions asked. Natural local rivalry, decent TV market. Clearly hot fan base, possibly rivalling Seattle.
    Indeed, don’t me incredibly surprised if the proposed Chivas rebrand mutates into a ‘California relocation’ down Sacramento Way, thus freeing up one more expansion spot for Minnesota.

    • Sternbc

      that would still be less than the 24,000 seat stadiums mls has been asking for from new teams- medium sized and intimate- $$ for a 24k seat stadium are much higher than than the $3 million shelled out for the 8,000 seat stadium opening this year.

  • Adam Golembiewski

    I just don’t know if Sacramento can keep a MLS team afloat. They already have a “top-3 sport” team in the Kings, and they’ve had trouble just keeping them in town, so what makes a MLS franchise suddenly viable?

    • Sternbc

      true, but they are a dedicated fan base if nothing else- Also, don’t see another california team- only possibility of that happening is if the league were to move Chivas here

  • BeetleSauce

    475,000 is Sacramento city population. The Sacramento metro area is what you need to focus on and that is 2.2 million residents. That’s a lot of bodies. Regarding Kings support, two of the five longest sellouts in the NBA belong to the Kings. Those of us that live here in Sacramento know that the main reason Kings attendance went down was the terrible owners Maloofs and their attempts to move the team and not put money into the team. After Kings sale last year attendance went from 79% of capacity (13,749) in 2013 to 94% of capacity (16,291) in 2014 which was the highest in the NBA. By the time the new arena opens in 2016, sellouts will be routine again. Sacramento also regularly smashes attendance records for AAA Rivercats baseball. There are more season ticket holders for the SF 49ers in Sacramento county than in SF county. Point is Sac has a thirst for sports. MLS fits perfectly here. Only 17 home games and I can easily see attendace averages over 30k per game plus there should be enough corporate sponsors for the club. Note that the republic game was sold out two days before game day so many more people that wanted tickets including walkups (myself included) could not buy tickets. They could easily have reached 25,000 but stadium capaciy was reached.