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Sacramento Mayor Steinberg: Priority is MLS

Steinberg will mediate a discussion between Kevin Nagle and Warren Smith, but made no guarantees on Republic FC branding.

California Legislators Vote On State's Embattled Budget Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images

It looks like Sacramento’s MLS expansion bid will move forward with or without Republic FC.

That, at least, is what Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg seemed to imply during a press conference he held on Wednesday afternoon.

“There is a higher priority here,” said the Sacramento mayor. “And the higher priority is the responsibility to the city, the responsibility to the region, to make sure that we do everything to maximize our opportunity to get a Major League Soccer franchise.”

Steinberg announced that he would be mediating a discussion between the two parties involved—Republic FC managing partner Kevin Nagle and Republic FC President Warren Smith—in his office on Thursday at an undisclosed time.

“As mayor of this city, I’ve got to make sure I do everything in my power to bring the two parties together and to say, ‘You know, your interests may be important, but the City’s and the community’s interests come first.’”

Steinberg cited the public nature of the dispute as the reason for his involvement in the saga.

“I don’t like when a private dispute spills out into the public. I don’t think that’s in the City’s interest.”

Asked if the dispute was of a financial nature, Steinberg was clear:

“Is it ever not about money?” he asked back.

However, the recently elected mayor was bullish on his ability to help resolve the on-going conflict between the two entities, citing it as merely a “kerfuffle.”

“I’ve dealt with many of these kinds of situations in my years at the statehouse,” he remarked. “I certainly, I think, have a crisis a day here as the mayor of Sacramento, and so, I’m feeling fine about it. This is going to work out.”

“Despite this ‘kerfuffle,’ I think we will look back on this after a short period of time, and certainly, years from now, when we are cheering for our major league Sacramento soccer team. We’ll look back on this and say this was a minor blip… a minor obstacle.”

Apparently, he has also dealt with this specific situation before.

Steinberg revealed that Nagle and Smith have been at odds in the past and that the mayor had previously intervened to help them find a resolution.

“I was aware of this back several months ago, and in fact, intervened one other time,” Steinberg confessed. “That intervention led to a series of discussions and meetings where I think they had a seeming resolution at the time and then it came apart for whatever reason.”

“What’s most important is that we assure the public— whether you’re a passionate fan of the Republic, or whether it’s not about Republic for you, but you just want Major League Soccer—we’re going to create a win for both sides.”

Such was the mayor’s confidence in finding a resolution that he paused a reporter’s question to make a bad attempt at humor with a reference to Republic’s early playoff exist last season.

“This is not going to end in a penalty kick,” he joked.

Steinberg became more serious, however, when pressed if he foresees the Republic FC brand continuing onto MLS.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “This ought not to be a dispute in the end about the name. I mean, I love the Republic. Let me put that out there. But we want Major League Soccer here. Period. And that’s what we’re aiming for.”

You can watch the entire press conference below: