Brian in Boston

North American Pro Soccer 2021

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I've followed Sacramento Republic FC's "Indomitable" story from the earliest whisperings of a Sacramento-based USL franchise being granted to Warren Smith and Joe Wagoner in December of 2012, through the unveiling of the club's striking identity seven months later, forward to the absolute electricity of an attendance record-shattering and championship-winning inaugural season in 2014, and onward through six subsequent USL campaigns and the various twists and turns of the quest to attain Major League Soccer membership. As I sit here today, in the wake of Friday's announcement that billionaire Ron Burkle was pulling out as lead investor of an MLS club in California's capital city, I can't help but think that Sacramento Republic FC's fairy tale has become a cautionary one.

I don't mean or wish to disparage any of the figures that have played a role in growing Sacramento Republic FC from a mere gleam in the eye of its founders to the verge of MLS competition. That said, it seems to me that with each change of lead investor in the club's ownership group, the increase in financial resources has been accompanied by a commensurate decrease in the gut-level passion for the team that said principal has brought to the table. That's not to say that the likes of Kevin Nagle or Ron Burkle wouldn't be committed owners of a Sacramento Major League Soccer team. Rather, I question whether the thought of owning and operating an MLS side excites them as much, fills them with as much joy as it did Warren Smith?

Waren Smith possessed the vision and enthusiasm to bring pro soccer to Sacramento, and the passion and commitment to build an organization that would put the city on the radar of MLS officials as a potential expansion candidate. That said, he didn't have the financial wherewithal to secure and operate a major professional sports franchise.

Kevin Nagle brought more financial resources to the table, and clearly thought enough of the possibility of wanting to bring Major League Soccer to Sacramento to get involved in the venture, but he still didn't possess the net worth necessary to be the lead owner of a modern top-tier pro sports franchise. More importantly, I question whether he "lived and breathed" Sacramento Republic FC soccer to the extent that Warren Smith did as the team's founder?

Finally, while Ron Burkle clearly outstrips both Smith and Nagle in terms of financial resources, I just never got the sense that Sacramento Republic FC represented anything more than an investment opportunity to him. A Major League Soccer club was an entry on a ledger in his eyes. In fact, I may be misremembering things, but didn't Burkle openly grouse at the event announcing Sacramento's entry to MLS about the league's expansion fee having increased from $150 million to $200 million? In any event, Burkle's heart never truly seemed in the venture.

My heart truly goes out to Republic fans. One of my favorite memories as an LAFC supporter is of hosting Sacramento Republic at Banc of California Stadium in the Round of 16 of the 2018 U.S. Open Cup. You folks truly brought some passion to the South End of the Banc that night.

Such a sad state of affairs.                  

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26 minutes ago, Corvus said:

Fredy Monetro is going back to the Sounders. 

 

Pfft. Rather have Eddie Johnson.

 

(Kidding.)

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1 hour ago, DG_ThenNowForever said:

 

Pfft. Rather have Eddie Johnson.

 

(Kidding.)

 

He's still pretty good actually. His last two years in Vancouver were decent, and last year he got displaced a bit by the arrival of Cavallini, but still had 5 goals and 2 assists in 11 games. I think the Caps would have liked to keep him but he wants to be with his family in Seattle. 

 

 

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I was just talking to my nephew who lives in the Bay Area. One of the founders of the Oakland Roots - Benno Nagel - is suing the team and members of its board. He alleges that he was unjustly removed from the Oakland Roots board of managers at an October 23, 2020 board meeting, then notified of his termination as the team's president via mail the following day.

Oakland Roots founder sues team and board, alleges he was forced out  

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I'm underwhelmed by this announcement. Seems a bit tenuous, and not going to Regina, where there is an existing CFL stadium they could play in seems foolish. 

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13 hours ago, Corvus said:

I'm underwhelmed by this announcement. Seems a bit tenuous, and not going to Regina, where there is an existing CFL stadium they could play in seems foolish. 

 

Why would this team need to play at a CFL stadium? We're not talking MLS here. 

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2 hours ago, DEAD! said:

 

Why would this team need to play at a CFL stadium? We're not talking MLS here. 

Because then they don’t need to build a new stadium in that scenario. 
Forge, Valour and, Ottawa all use CFL stadiums which is likely why @Corvus asked that question. 

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37 minutes ago, Jer15 said:

Because then they don’t need to build a new stadium in that scenario. 
Forge, Valour and, Ottawa all use CFL stadiums which is likely why @Corvus asked that question. 

 

Calgary and Edmonton don't play in CFL stadiums.... and this team will play in Saskatoon. Not exactly next door to Regina last I checked and it is the largest city in Saskatchewan.

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23 hours ago, Jer15 said:

Forge, Valour and, Ottawa all use CFL stadiums


All three of those clubs have ties to the CFL franchises with which they share CFL stadia.

* Forge FC and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are both owned by Bob Young.

* Valour FC and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are both owned by the non-profit corporation Winnipeg Football Club.

* Atlético Ottawa is owned by Club Atlético Madrid with Jeff Hunt - a former member of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the Ottawa Redblacks and operates TD Place Stadium - serving as a strategic partner in the team's operation.

By contrast, the exclusive rights to a Canadian Premier League club in the Province of Saskatchewan have been awarded to Alan Simpson's Living Sky Sports and Entertainment, Inc. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Simpson and Living Sky Sports and Entertainment are in no way connected to the community-owned Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club or the City of Regina-owned Mosaic Stadium.

The press release announcing the awarding of the expansion rights quotes CPL Commissioner David Clanachan as saying, "About a year ago the league was introduced to Al Simpson and over time our conversations evolved and demonstrated that Al was a Canadian extremely interested in soccer and bringing a team to tuition." So, given that timeline, it isn't as if Simpson just showed up at the CPL offices and was handed a franchise instantaneously. Simpson's plan has been gestating for at least a year.

In this piece (and the attached video), it's mentioned that with Saskatoon's "Prairieland Park... getting out of the horse racing business" Simpson sees the potential in "refurbishing parts of Marquis Downs" thoroughbred racetrack (specifically, the existing grandstand) and adding additional seating sections in order to launch a Saskatchewan-based CPL club in a 4,000-seat soccer-specific venue. Further, the Marquis Down site offers the opportunity to expand beyond the 4,000-seat threshold.

I'd add that it's worth noting that building a soccer venue at an equestrian sports facility isn't exactly a novel idea within the CPL. Cavalry FC doesn't play its matches at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Rather, they've created an intimate, right-sized home on a modified jumping field at Spruce Meadows in suburban Foothills County, Alberta. That said, while Cavalry FC's ATCO Field is a 13-mile, half-hour drive from downtown Calgary, a soccer stadium on the site of Marquis Downs would be just a 3-mile, 10-minute drive from downtown Saskatoon.

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It's really incredible. Nice work FCC; I hope you finally get a good team to match an incredible stadium.

 

Also, the bar continues to be raised for MLS stadiums. Teams like Seattle and Charlotte and Chicago stuck in older football stadiums are looking lesser about now (to say nothing of NYCFC).

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Chicago is better off in an older football stadium than they ever were in a brand new one out in the sticks.

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58 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

Chicago is better off in an older football stadium than they ever were in a brand new one out in the sticks.

 

Yes, but what about a super-cool futuristic spaceship-style SSS in the middle of the city?

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On 3/13/2021 at 6:47 AM, Jer15 said:

Because then they don’t need to build a new stadium in that scenario. 
Forge, Valour and, Ottawa all use CFL stadiums which is likely why @Corvus asked that question. 

 

Yes exactly. 

 

Unrelated, but some important CONCACAF analysis here: (profanity)

 

 

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Looks like Sacramento may be out again. This time the NWSL. Ron Burkle, who pulled out of the MLS expansion is now looking at moving his NWSL team rights from Sacramento to San Diego.

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On 3/19/2021 at 4:35 PM, DG_ThenNowForever said:

 

Yes, but what about a super-cool futuristic spaceship-style SSS in the middle of the city?

They have half of that right now. 

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