Sacramento Republic fans got some encouraging news on Thursday. Major League Soccer officials said on that the league will expand to 30 total teams in the upcoming years, up from the previous goal of 28 clubs established just over three years ago.
Commissioner Don Garber made the announcement at the MLS Board Of Governors meeting in Los Angeles.
The league is currently 24 teams in size, and FC Cincinnati, which beat out the Sacramento expansion bid recently, will become an MLS franchise this season. Nashville and Miami are slated to join the league next year, while an Austin franchise will come online in 2021.
The board did not identify markets, but groups in Sacramento and St. Louis will get invitations to make formal presentations to the league's expansion committee. A decision on expansion options will be made in the coming months.
The Sacramento Republic FC reacted very positively to the news out of Los Angeles.
"Today is a monumental step in the process and we are closer than ever to reaching our goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Sacramento," team officials said in a written statement. "There isn’t a better fit for MLS than our city and today’s announcement is a testament to the strength of Sacramento’s bid, and most importantly, to the faith and devotion of Republic FC fans. We will continue our ongoing communication with the Commissioner and with MLS and look forward to finalizing all next steps to deliver MLS to Sacramento."
There is no specific date for the new teams to join the league. MLS has set an expansion fee of $200 million for the team's 28th and 29th teams. A fee has not been set for the 30th franchise.
Sacramento Republic FC recently added billionaire businessman Ron Burkle to the ownership group in a bid to enchance the team's chances for membership in the MLS.
In addition, Burkle will help finance the construction of a new soccer stadium and development in the old railyards in downtown Sacramento. The City of Sacramento will be a partner in that project, but city officials are promising no tax dollars will be used to build the stadium.