Like many of you, I am still basking in the glory of what was a historic day for Sacramento Monday as the dream to become a Major League Soccer (MLS) city finally became a reality. Over the course of the day, I had a chance to talk to several people involved throughout this five-year journey — from front office executives and players — to members of the Tower Bridge Battalion, and one consistent theme that continues to stick with me is the overwhelming joy people feel. There is a heightened sense of pride that this is OUR club.
Without a doubt, the club and this journey has unified us as a city, and any frustration on the delay to get to this point seemed to be a waning point of contention Monday as I watched the day unfold.
Below are some of the interviews that I captured Monday. Certainly there is more to share, and maybe someday I will transcribe them all, but I wanted to share what I felt was the best of the best. Without further ado, here we go:
Kevin Nagle: Sacramento Republic FC Chairman and CEO
How are you feeling right now Kevin?
It’s really a fantastic feeling. It’s a sentinel moment in Sacramento’s history. We know that five years from now, we are going to look at something very different down in the railyards. To be able to say I had an impact and I touched that is hopefully an unselfish feeling.
I would also say that there were times that people didn’t think we were going to be able to make this happen. I never wavered from that. I am a David in the David and Goliath, and I knew we were going to prevail. I just have a lot of gratification about that because we are going to impact a lot of people positively in the Sacramento region.
For people reading this outside of Sacramento, and may not know all that is great about our city, where does your unrelenting, tireless, almost bullish belief in Sacramento and this region come from within you?
I would say maybe it gets in your blood. When I moved to Sacramento, I embraced it, and over the course of 20 years, I got more and more involved. It’s my home. It’s the home of my children and now my children’s children. I am watching Sacramento grow up and it’s the here and now.
Just like you heard earlier today. It’s not only the now, but it’s the future. It’s a fantastic place to be and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Where does this moment rank for you among all the things you have accomplished and been apart over the course of your life?
It’s got to be a top five. I wouldn’t dare to say where in the top five. Obviously my children being born and also the fact that I was able to go from being a really poverty stricken kid to selling a company and being really fortunate that way.
It’s one of those moments where I can’t even describe the excitement.
Krissie Goetz: Tower Bridge Battalion
You have been a part of this club since the beginning. What does this day mean to you?
You know, I am super excited, but at the same time, I’m a litte torn. I love the connection we have with our team and the players. I feel as though moving on to the next level, we are going to lose that. Even though we know that’s what makes Sacramento Republic FC who they are, nobody can guarantee that’s what’s going to happen at the next level.
It started out with the crest. The crest was Sacramento and true to what this city was about. The only thing missing from our crest was maybe a tree or something about food, but ever since day one, we have had that connection with the players...we have had that connection with the front office. We feel as though there might 11,000 of us in the stadium, but we are one massive family. We are pulling for the boys in red whether we are at home or on the road. It doesn’t matter where we are. We are Sacramento Republic FC.
But going on to the next level, I am excited about the stadium. I am [definitely] excited for safe-standing area for Tower Bridge Batttalion.
Adam Moffat: Former Sacramento Republic FC midfielder
As someone who has played in this city and for this club, what are your thoughts on today?
It’s great. When I joined this club three years ago, [getting an MLS expansion bid] was right around the corner, so it’s taken some time to get there. Obviously I am not playing anymore, but it’s great to see. The fans are unbelievable and the whole city gets behind everything.
I’m happy for the fans and all the people that have put so much work into it. To finally get that reward...it’s a big deal.
Do you still see the trajectory of the sport continuing to rise in Sacramento and beyond?
Oh yeah. I came over here from Scotland in 2007 to join MLS and the same year David Beckham started. So it was me and him that started it [laughed]. But no, just seeing the growth since then has been incredible. I spent eight seasons in MLS. I did the first season with the Portand Timbers...I was drafted by them, and just seeing how it takes off...I was like wow. It’s incredible.
That’s going to continue here...I know how fans are at the USL level, and now going up a level and with a really nice stadium, it’s going to be fantastic.
Like Stu Holden mentioned, having that top area professional team in the area [is huge]. The amount of kids I train that go to the Republic games, the girls that are wearing Alex Morgan jersey’s, [shows me] soccer has grown so much. Being involved in that and seeing that growth in the area, and giving them something to strive for...the top level in the country...it’s really, really good.
I have three young kids myself, and if that’s something they want to pursue, giving them the opportunity to see the best players in the country is such a big thing.
Describe what it was like walking out on the pitch in that inaugural season for the Timbers?
There’s so much excitement. In Portland, there was the build up to that [moment]. But then there was a different dynamic in that they had a USL team....you know, what players stay, what players don’t. And that’s going to be a similar in Sacramento.
You have players still playing for their jobs and you are going to see that over the next couple of years...players wanting to take that next step. It’s an interesting dynamic when you go from an LAFC [situation], compared to when you have a team already that is stepping up. But it’s going to be fantastic for the city.
Ben Gumpert: Sacramento Republic FC President and COO
How satisfying is this for you?
It’s satisfying just for all of us in Sacramento. That’s what's important. There’s been a lot of people who have worked on this for a long time and for all the right reasons, because in one fell swoop, this is one the biggest impacts we can ever have in our city. To be here and to celebrate it with our fans, with our partners and with the people in this community that made this possible is truly unbelievable.
And now the real works starts. There is so much more work to do to deliver everything that we want and deserve as a community, and I couldn’t be more excited to be at this point and excited about what’s ahead.
Joe Wagoner: Co-founder of Sacramento Republic FC
This has been a journey for you...how are you feeling?
You know, soccer is the one thing that brings people together. It’s not the same food, or the same language, or the same music because all those things are different. But you put the sport of soccer out there, and everyone can relate with each other. People might not think they understand the person next to them or they might not even like the person next to them, but you put them in a stadium under the same crest, and they are like wait...I’m probably more like this person than I’m dislike this person. And that was the original goal.
So to take that thought, then writing the first business plan in 2010 and 2011 [while] having beers in someone’s garage...I mean, we didn’t have any money. We were just dreaming. We thought...wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this? To see that turn into this, there isn’t a word to describe it.
To actually walk in today and see our colors...I broke down right away. It was incredible. To think about what this club is going to do...it will change the trajectory of the city and having the honor to be a part of that is something I will never forget.
This is the people’s club. It’s for the people, by the people. This is going to be the place where communities come together. If you really want to get the [pulse] about what Sacramento is [all about], go to a Republic match. [It] is a true representation of the spirit of the city.