By Michael Teich
Sacramento is betting that a new stadium could help the city win Major League Soccer's expansion lottery and spark long-term economic development in California's capital.
"There'd be a great return to the city. It'll increase our tax base, it'll increase our tourism dollars, there will be more hotels," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told Cheddar in an interview. "The benefits to me well outweigh the costs."
In a bid to land a professional soccer team in MLS, the top-tier U.S. league, the Sacramento City Council agreed to offer $33 million in tax rebates and other incentives to help an investment group led by the billionaire Ron Burkle build a $252 million soccer stadium.
The stadium would be the anchor of a downtown entertainment district, where the investment group would develop the 244-acre Sacramento Railyards, which Steinberg called the "largest undeveloped infill piece of land" in the country.
"We get about $1 billion of investment in return and, hopefully, Major League Soccer," the mayor said.
Sacramento is vying to become the 28th team to join the growing MLS, which sold 7.4 million tickets last season and saw its broadcast viewership jump 6 percent. The 2019 season kicked off March 2 with 24 teams competing. Next season, teams from Miami and Nashville will join the league, and a team from Austin is scheduled to join in 2021.
St. Louis, Detroit, and San Diego are among some of the other cities looking to join the league, with former U.S. national team and MLS star Landon Donovan part of the San Diego group trying to bring a team to that city. Last November, voters defeated a planned stadium in San Diego, severely hurting that group's efforts.
Steinberg is confident Sacramento can rally to join the league. "We're a sports-crazy town," he said.
For full interview click here.