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Race for last Major League Soccer expansion team heats up with NBA owner looking to bring team to Sacramento

By Leonard Martinez
Published On: Aug 06 2014 11:18:05 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 06 2014 02:02:57 PM CDT

Major League Soccer

EL PASO, Texas -

The owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings are in discussions to invest in Sacramento’s minor league soccer team with the hopes of turning it into a Major League Soccer expansion team, according to a report in The Sacramento Bee.

The Sacramento Republic FC debuted this year and has a season attendance of 118,107.

Kings president, current Republic owner, and Sacramento’s mayor are expected to meet with MLS officials in Portland this week, according to The Sacramento Bee report.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said last summer that the league intends to expand to 24 teams by 2020. Since then, MLS has awarded expansion franchises to Orlando (2015), New York (2015), Atlanta (2017), and Miami.

The Miami ownership group, led by David Beckham, has been awarded a franchise to begin play in 2017 but they are having problems finding a place to build a stadium.

That leaves one market remaining for the 24-team threshold established by Garber.

MLS' official website reported July 22 that league officials met with potential ownership in Las Vegas, as well as some of that city's mayor, about the possibility of putting an expansion franchise in Las Vegas.

A league spokesman quoted in the piece described it as "preliminary discussions."

Las Vegas now has two different potential ownership groups trying to lure MLS to Las Vegas.

Jason Ader, one of those potential owners told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it is a $350 million investment -$175 million-$200 million for a covered stadium; $100 million for an expansion fee and start-up costs; and $50 million for working capital to cover the first few years.

MountainStar Sports Group, which owns the Triple-A baseball team El Paso Chihuahuas, announced in mid-June that they have had "preliminary and positive discussions" with MLS about El Paso getting an expansion team.

ABC-7 asked Dan Courtemanche, MLS Executive Vice President of Communications, where El Paso stands in the process of getting a team in light of the news about Las Vegas.

"We are in preliminary discussions with a potential ownership group for an expansion team in Las Vegas," Courtemanche said in an email to ABC-7 July 22. "There are many cities interested in bringing a future Major League Soccer expansion team to their market, including El Paso.  El Paso has a passionate soccer fan base, and we continue to monitor the market."

MountainStar Sports has created a website, http://www.mlsinelp.com/, where fans can sign up to show their support for MLS in the El Paso/Juarez/Las Cruces region.

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