Sacramento Republic FC president Todd Dunivant was on the Carmichael Dave Show Wednesday on KHTK, and for the man thrown into a whirlwind since being named club president last week on top of his general manager duties, he sought to make his pitch that he belongs in the new role and Sac Republic belong in MLS.
On the first count, Dunivant said he understood why some may question his qualifications for such a monumental job, but his experience launching the San Francisco Deltas in the NASL, in which they won the league title in their single year of existence, gave him a crash course in the various sides of running a club.
“I appreciate the question and I understand it too, because as an athlete that is always the thought, how do you make that transition?” Dunivant said. “I was able to jump in really quickly at a high level to start a club from scratch in San Francisco and really enjoyed the experience. Because doing so many things, having the experience of being a part of MLS for so long and the relationships there, between the commissioner, the heads of departments at the top of MLS, the ownership, being involved in the collective bargaining agreements, those relationships throughout the league are something that never go away and have only gotten stronger as I’ve come to this side of the aisle.”
Dunivant said he also understands what makes Sacramento special.
“I’ve been a part of Sacramento Republic now for three years in a deep way, in a way that has shaped me, the city has impressed upon me in an incredible way just how it’s different here. It is a different market, it is a different vibe. People who like soccer obviously love the team but people who don’t really follow the sport, they’re interested in it. You get an Uber driver, they ask you where you work, you say Sac Republic and they immediately know everything about the team. And they might not even be soccer fans, they might be, they might not even be sports fans,” he said.
Dunivant’s appointment came on the heels of two blockbuster pieces of news, with the lead investor for the MLS expansion team Ron Burkle pulling out altogether a week and a half ago, effectively cancelling Sacramento’s MLS expansion team for the time being, possibly for good, followed by president Ben Gumpert resigning a few days later.
Even with the tough circumstances, Dunivant said he thinks they can still accomplish the MLS goal.
“It’s been a busy last week and a half but I’ve been incredibly encouraged,” he said. “The news of the investor backing out was a big shock. It was a big shock to us, it was a big shock to MLS. But I quickly pivoted and my mood changed the second I saw Kevin Nagle’s tweet saying, ‘I’ve got this. We’ve got this. We aren’t going anywhere.’ It gave me all the confidence in the world. To hear the feedback from our fans, from the business community, from the league itself, from our internal staff and players, this has been what’s given me so much hope and optimism. Sacramento doesn’t quit. We are indomitable for a reason and I am witnessing it day in and day out.”
Dunivant, who played in MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC, winning five MLS Cups along the way, touted the fact that the expansion bid, including stadium project is all ready to go, pending an investor or investor group to actually spend the money.
“It’s absolutely an attractive deal and the reason MLS chose Sacramento is a lot of the reasons we’ve already spoken about. The market, the downtown stadium, the support of the political leadership and the mayor, the support of the business community. It is a project that’s ready to go. It is turnkey, and the hardest work has been done. Everything is in line and ready to go and you don’t find that, usually you run into land issues or city council issues, all those types of things, we don’t have that. We have everything ready to go today and could start building the stadium immediately once we get the funds.
“For an investor it’s a great opportunity because not only is everything ready to go but the sport of soccer, which I’ve been involved with my entire life, does nothing but go up. The interest in the sport, the popularity of the game has exploded in this country. A huge part of that — the main part of that — is MLS and what it’s done throughout our country,” he added.
While nationally there’s a thought among some that this ends Sacramento’s MLS dreams, Dunivant refuted that, while explaining Burkle’s exit from the project was a shock to everyone closely involved.
“MLS has already chosen us before,” he said. “You can’t compare our market to any others because we’ve already joined the club. And then the investor pulled out and that was unexpected from everyone’s perspective, and certainly from MLS’s perspective. They certainly didn’t expect that, it caught them off-guard and was a shock to everybody. But at the same time, they believe in our market, they said so much in their statement.”
The biggest task for Dunivant and Sac Republic may not be on the field in 2021, it’s the simple yet complicated goal of finding the investor(s) to sign on and actually start funding the project.
“At the end of the day that’s our job. We need to find an investor who sees the unbelievable potential here, the unbelievable opportunity and believes in our project, because at the end of the day that’s what we want. We want an investor who’s committed fully to the sport, to the city and to MLS,” he said.
You can watch Dunivant’s segment on the Carmichael Dave Show here.
Missed the interview with club president @ToddDunivant on @Sports1140KHTK with @CarmichaelDave this morning? We've got you covered. Listen to the full conversation through the link below. https://t.co/jxJ6wtEojC— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) March 9, 2021
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