When the Sacramento Republic move into the new downtown Railyards Stadium for their debut MLS season in 2022, a new lead tenant will take over 11,500 seat Papa Murphy’s Park at Cal Expo: the California Storm women’s team. The question now is whether they will be competing in the professional National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) when they do.
Signs are suggesting the answer is, yes. The Storm organization currently is part of the second tier Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) and has been highly successful, but recently added former USWNT stars Leslie Osborne and Brandi Chastain, as well as Brazilian legend Sissi to the team’s Board of Directors, as well as filing trademark registrations. This points to bigger ambitions.
They also have the backing of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who said at a recent City Council meeting, “Building off of the Major League Soccer excitement, I believe our city has another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — let’s bring women’s professional soccer to Sacramento. We are all currently working on it together, and, personally, if and when we are collectively successfully, this is something, I believe, will truly be another game-changer for Sacramento.”
There would still be many hurdles to cross before an NWSL franchise is awarded but being backed by the Mayor and being an affiliate of the Sacramento Republic organization certainly puts them in a strong position. We’ll be following this story closely in the coming months.
The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a change to the MLS stadium construction deal with Sacramento Republic. The City will now loan $27.2 million up front to pay for infrastructure development in the Railyards area, rather than recouping the money through taxes after the stadium opens.
“Instead of allowing the folks investing in the railyards to collect the $27 million over time, we would loan them the resources upfront so they can get a faster start,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. said. “And then, we get paid back dollar for dollar the money we have loaned. So, it’s zero risk for the city.”
If those costs exceed the $27.2 million loan the Republic investment group would pay for the overages, making it a low risk investment according to the Mayor. “You have to invest in order to increase the tax base and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the soccer (stadium) and the Railyards,” he said.
Republic FC’s MLS stadium wil anchor a 31-acre parcel within the Downtown Railyards development and will be located east of 7th Street. The plans also call for an entertainment district adjacent to the stadium to extend use beyond game days for fans and visitors year-round.
Three days after being eliminated from the USL play-offs, Sacramento Republic FC announced that they would not be renewing the contract of head coach, Simon Elliott and his assistant, Benjamin Ziemer. This can only mean that the team wants to put in place the coach that will lead the team into the MLS in 2022 and give him two seasons to build a squad and staff up to the task.
It also points to them wanting to pursue a higher profile name in the soccer world, but someone on that list might be an old friend of the club – namely, current Seattle Sounders assistant, Predrag Radosavljevi…
Beloved by the Sacramento faithful for delivering the 2014 USL Championship at the end of the teams’ inaugural season, the Serbian-American left the club 18 games into the 2015 USL season for England. Believing he would be appointed manager at Leicester City, the job went to Claudio Ranieri and Preki found himself unemployed, as the Republic had already replaced him.
After a year away from the game he rejoined the USL with Saint Louis FC before joining the Sounders in Washington, where he helped lead the team to the MLS Cup. He could obviously remain in Seattle but the offer of building his own MLS squad and coaching staff, in an area he knows and is loved, might be too much to resist.