City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

December 3, 2012
Sacramento lands minor league soccer franchise

As their neighbors in Elk Grove move forward with a quest to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to the region, Sacramento officials announced this morning that they have landed a lower-division soccer team.

An ownership group led by former River Cats executive Warren Smith has been granted the franchise, which will begin play in 2014 in the United Soccer League Pro division. Smith said he is negotiating with Sacramento City College to have the team play in the newly renovated Hughes Stadium.

Smith and Mayor Kevin Johnson announced the new team at a press conference this morning.

Smith said his long-term goal is to show Major League Soccer that Sacramento is a viable market for a franchise in that league. He said other new MLS markets - including Portland, Ore. - began with USL Pro franchises.

"Our job is to prove to the rest of the world (that Sacramento can support an MLS team) and compete with those cities that are also trying to lure a Major League Soccer franchise," Smith said.

Earlier today, Elk Grove Mayor-elect Gary Davis said he had met over the weekend with MLS Commissioner Don Garber about that city's push for attracting an MLS team. An ownership group is negotiating with Elk Grove officials over a plan to build a soccer stadium in southeastern Elk Grove.

Smith said his new franchise could compliment Elk Grove's quest - proving the region can support pro soccer. "We're not trying to thwart anything," he said.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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