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An Open Letter to MLS Commissioner Don Garber

Photo Credit: Sacramento Republic FC/Douglas Taylor
Photo Credit: Sacramento Republic FC/Douglas Taylor

Dear Commissioner Garber,

I hope this finds you well.

As Sacramento makes a final push for Major League Soccer (MLS), it got me thinking about how far we have come.

It seems like just yesterday that Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott was in Sacramento to meet with local officials and Sacramento Republic FC leadership for the first time to determine if Sacramento was a viable market for MLS.

It’s hard to believe, but that was nearly five years ago. Nearly two years after that exploratory visit, you too descended on Sacramento, toured the railyard site of the future stadium and met with local and team officials.

Optimism following your visit to the Capitol City was at an all-time high, and remained high at least until November 2017 when Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento were all named finalists for the 25th and 26th MLS expansion slots.

However, that optimism took a hit as we saw Nashville awarded an expansion club that December and Cincinnati soon thereafter in May 2018. Then just a few months ago, Austin was awarded the 27th expansion slot as part of the Columbus Crew kerfuffle. I think I speak on behalf of the city and fan base when I say that it was rather painful to watch.

But here we still stand. Not deterred in the slightest. There is one more expansion city to be announced (at least for the foreseeable future), and Sacramento is doing everything it possibly can to position itself for that 28th slot, while patiently awaiting word from you if we will finally get our ticket punched.

As you know, in just the last week, Republic FC has released new stadium renderings that are simply breathtaking. The City of Sacramento also proposed a $33 million package of tax rebates, fee waivers, and infrastructure financing to bolster Sacramento’s bid. We are unequivocally all in, but are you and your owners? Are you ready to invest in our future?

Photo courtesy of Sacramento Republic FC
Photo courtesy of Sacramento Republic FC

As you probably guessed by now, we don’t give up easily or go away quietly. It’s not in our fabric. Look no further than how we saved our beloved Sacramento Kings from relocating just a few years ago.

Beyond the heroic support of the city and its fans to save the Kings from relocating, it was former NBA Commissioner David Stern who quietly orchestrated a path forward for Sacramento to retain its team. It was Commissioner Stern who believed in us and in the future of the NBA in Sacramento. He was, in one short word — bold.

Because he believed in us, we now have the beautiful Golden 1 Center that has served as a catalyst for a downtown revitalization. More importantly, we still have NBA basketball in our city and all the other events associated with having a state-of-the-art facility. I have been able to share my love of the Kings with my young kids at the Golden 1 Center. What a tremendous gift that has been. But I (we) know so much more is possible.

Are you ready to invest in our future in the same way? At the end of the day, this is what it is about. This is the opportunity before you. Sacramento has the investor group needed, a sound stadium plan in place, cooperation between the city and the club, strong leadership within the Republic, and overwhelming fan support. You know this.

I love Sacramento, our club and I know you will too. But again, it needs your investment. Be bold. Having MLS in Sacramento will forever change our future and path forward. It is a defining moment for our city in the sense that it is an opportunity to change a community and generations to come. As you know, it has always been more than just soccer for us.

We are ready when you are. Your move Mr. Commissioner.