Yesterday, Beckham’s investment group walked away from a proposed stadium site in Miami near the Marlins’s stadium due to an inability to secure the private properties needed to build the stadium, using up a bit more of their Garber goodwill in the process. Less than 24 hours later, Sacramento approved their stadium plans a month earlier than expected. Coincidence, or a timely salvo at Miami from Sacramento Republic FC to get their bid serious attention in the face of Miami’s latest failure?
A new stadium is all that’s stopping Miami from being named the 24th and potentially final MLS team (including the already-approved Los Angeles FC, Atlanta United FC, and Minnesota United FC). But the process is going on its 21st month, and with this latest setback, it may take months or years for a final site to be approved. Three sites have been rejected so far; who’s to say a fourth, fifth, or even sixth bid won’t meet the same end?
Despite being excruciatingly painful for Sacramento fans to watch Miami be given so many opportunities while they have their table set, SRFC remains optimistic. SRFC has patiently bided in this process while remaining vocal about all their qualifications, including major funding from the San Francisco 49ers owners earlier this year and now a downtown site ready to have its ground broken. Sacramento Republic is already selling out their USL stadium, Bonney Field; an MLS stadium would certainly see a similar response from soccer fans in the state’s capital. Yet Miami continues to have Garber’s attention as the next MLS expansion.
Time is money, and the Miami ownership must be feeling some pressure with the news coming out of Sacramento tonight, even with Garber reiterating his allegiance to try and solidify a Miami bid earlier today. For Miami, it’s back to the drawing-board with empty hands while Sacramento is ready to make it rain like Flo Rida in a strip club. Sooner or later, the tug of war must end between Miami and Sacramento, and Sacramento just made a huge pull on that rope.
I do not believe we’ll hear any definitive words about Sacramento’s expansion in the coming months, as Miami still has some time to get a deal done, and Garber seems willing to wait given his relationship with Miami’s investors. But if nothing happens within the next year, expect Sacramento to get the green-light as MLS can’t wait forever, especially with Sacramento flashing millions of dollars and saying “Hurry up and take my money.”
There are other options. Garber could increase the size of the league to 25 teams, which could include both teams in the league and allow Miami as much time as needed to get a deal finalized. Garber could also look at fledgling clubs and remove one of them from the league, as what happened with Chivas last year. Colorado would probably be on top of that list.
Time is certainly waning for MLS Miami, and the time may be right for SRFC’s entry into MLS.
For updates on Sacramento’s stadium plans and view the stadium renderings, visit builtforsacramento.com.