If it’s starting to feel a bit warmer in Sacramento, it’s not because of the simmering, 100-degree temperatures; it’s because the city is moving closer to attaining the Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team it covets.
On Thursday, Republic FC held a public event at UC Davis Medical Center to announce a kit (jersey) sponsorship extension with UC Davis Health System, along with a new joint health initiative, called “Built for Health.”
The event featured appearances from the entire Republic squad, food trucks, music and games, including an inflatable soccer field hosted by Street Soccer USA. But the main draw was the news that Republic’s exclusive kit partnership with UC Davis Health System would extend to MLS if Sacramento joins the league, which sees the club continue to check off the entry requirements set by league officials.
“It’s a proud and exciting day for the Sacramento Republic, and actually, for me personally,” Republic FC Lead Investor Kevin Nagle told the crowd. “For the Republic, today’s announcement is the latest in a series of milestones on the path to Major League Soccer. In just two years, Sacramento has vaulted to the front of the line among cities entering MLS.”
Nagle went on to describe how Republic has proven itself to be MLS ready, listing off the team’s “incredible fan base, world-class stadium in Downtown Sacramento, and top-notch ownership group” and that the new partnership with UC Davis Health System proves that the city is a “major league market with a prominent company and institution ready to step up and invest in the future of Sacramento.”
“In terms of where we are in the standing for MLS, I can assure you we are very close to achieving our goal, and I truly believe that when we look back at this journey, we’re going to find that our partnership with UC Davis will go down as one of the final steps that puts us over the top.”
UC Davis Health System has been Republic’s exclusive kit sponsor since the team’s inaugural season in 2014. Republic FC President & Co-Founder Warren Smith took the stage after Nagle and lauded the impact the partnership has had in the organization’s development, including helping to bring the first match against an English Premier League side to Sacramento, helping build Bonney Field and later expanding its capacity to 11,500, and starting one of the most successful rookie youth academies in the country.
“The beautiful game is the one sport [in which] we get to wear our partners over our hearts,” Smith told the audience. “There is no better partner to represent us or the community of Sacramento than the UC Davis Health System, especially as we take this next step to Major League Soccer. Our players, our fans and our kids will be wearing across their chests and over their hearts an organization committed to saving lives and improving the region’s health and wellness.”
Republic’s partnership with UC Davis Health System will also extend beyond the team’s jerseys. The second part of yesterday’s announcement was the unveiling of the Built for Health Initiative, an ambitious project that will focus on elevating Republic to one of the most progressive soccer teams in country in regards to health and wellness.
Per a club statement, the plan will focus on five areas:
Player Training, Development and Injury Prevention. From its practice facility to its training program to its health professionals team, Republic FC will develop the most innovative and comprehensive program in MLS for player training, development and injury prevention.
Stadium Design and Operations. Republic FC will build the “healthiest” stadium in MLS, integrating health and wellness considerations into critical design and operational choices around air quality, water quality, light, fitness and overall guest comfort.
Children and Youth. Through its community investment initiatives, youth soccer programming and Academy, Republic FC will provide health education and fitness opportunities to children and youth across the Sacramento region.
Community Investment and Healthy Neighborhoods. UC Davis Health System and Republic FC will elevate their existing collaborations in the community and neighborhoods, including partnerships with Way Up, Oak Park Promise and various school districts. Programing and awareness campaigns will go beyond just the beautiful game to include overall health and wellness for our region that also engages our parks, trails, civic amenities and neighborhoods as a whole.
Technology and Innovation. Republic FC and UC Davis will join forces to integrate cutting edge innovations in health, fitness and wellness, including wearable technology and industry-leading performance gear, to promote the health of Republic FC fans, players, employees, and the Sacramento community as a whole.
No specific details were given at the event as to how the organizations will look to implement these five focal points, however.
Team officials will also be in San Jose next week to meet with MLS executives during the MLS All-Star game on July 28th and hope to receive an update on where Sacramento currently stands in the expansion team timetable.
You can watch the entire press conference and statements to the media from UC Davis Medical Center CEO Ann Madden Rice, Republic FC President & Co-Founder Warren Smith and Republic FC Lead Investor Kevin Nagle, below: