We’ve been waiting with bated breath to learn the fate of Sacramento’s NWSL expansion team, first announced by the league in January but with no local confirmation and the city’s MLS expansion team falling apart in the interim.
NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird acknowledged recently the league was “in discussions” over next steps for Sacramento’s team, which was/is scheduled to enter the league next year.
Now, a new report claims the NWSL expansion ownership group in Sacramento, helmed by Ron Burkle, is looking to exit Sacramento altogether and is pitching the league on moving the team to San Diego, per The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf on Friday.
Kassouf noted the move is not cut and dry, and there are several ways the proposal could play out for the various parties, including Sacramento.
But the report makes something clear that Baird hinted in her previous comments: Without the new stadium at the Railyards, NWSL is far less interested in putting a team in Sacramento. With the MLS bid and stadium project on hold and possibly collapsed permanently, the NWSL team has to be in major doubt at this point.
On top of that, there is a certain weirdness if the MLS bid and stadium project were to be revived, while the NWSL team — owned by Burkle, who spurned MLS in the end — were to become a tenant of the stadium. Is this even conceivable? I honestly don’t know but given the drama around Burkle stringing MLS along and paying nothing before exiting in a shock move, it doesn’t seem like conditions to really work together amicably.
One more tidbit from Kassouf’s story, which you should definitely check out: Unlike the MLS expansion bid, Burkle has actually paid real expansion fees for the NWSL team, so this is a very different entanglement than the MLS situation. Instead of leaving an expansion bid to collapse, Burkle may have real leverage to do more this time around.
Of course, this story is not complete but as I keep saying, every day we don’t hear a peep locally about NWSL makes me think it’s getting increasingly remote, at least for a 2022 launch. It would truly be a dagger to lose promised top flight men’s and women’s professional soccer, but we’ll keep you posted on updates to this story as we learn them.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.