What is the status of NWSL in Sacramento?
It’s a worthy question. The bombshell news that Sacramento’s MLS expansion bid has been rescinded after Ron Burkle withdrew as the lead investor has a potential knock-on effect, given that Burkle was also announced as the lead investor of a Sacramento NWSL team set to launch in 2022.
Curiously, that news was first announced by NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird in January and there has been zero public confirmation in Sacramento, aside from a polite statement from a Burkle spokesperson. There’s been no public announcement, no press release, no online presence, nothing to indicate a team is launching in 2022.
In the meantime, former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has been linked to a front office role with the Sacramento men’s and women’s teams. But since then, Burkle pulled out of the MLS project, and there remains absolute crickets about NWSL in Sacramento.
Finally, someone has said something, as Baird spoke to ESPN’s Sarah Spain on her podcast “That’s What She Said” this week.
The interview was a long-ranging discussion, but Spain — who recently bought an ownership stake in the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars herself — asked Baird specifically about the state of the Sacramento expansion bid in light of the recent events.
Baird name-checked three people related to Sacramento — Burkle, Ellis and Matt Alvarez, the minority investor in the MLS expansion bid prior to her response to the question:
“Well I think right now we’re in discussions with them, because obviously, as I said before, having the gold-standard facilities for the women is very, very important,” Baird said. “It’s important to ownership there, as well as us, so we’re going to have to sort through that and see what that can be for the women’s team. I don’t have anything to really talk now, but I know that we share that with Ron and Matt at the helm. We really want to continue to have the gold standard of training [facilities] and stadium for the women’s team.”
That’s a very “read the tea leaves” response, and it’s somewhat ambiguous, honestly. Does it indicate an expansion team in Sacramento is forging ahead? Maybe??? I guess we’ll stay in a holding pattern for the time being.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.