The fate of Major League Soccer’s Sacramento expansion franchise is uncertain after the team’s lead investor pulled out on Friday.
Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, also a part owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, withdrew from the Sacramento club, which had been due to open play in 2023.
MLS wrote in a statement, "Earlier today, Ron Burkle informed the League that based on issues with the project related to COVID-19, he has decided to not move forward with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team in Sacramento.
"After working for many years to bring an MLS team to Sacramento, the League continues to believe it can be a great MLS market. In the coming days, the League will work with Mayor Darrell Steinberg to evaluate possible next steps for MLS in Sacramento."
MLS commissioner Don Garber added in a statement, "I want to thank Mayor Steinberg for his continued efforts to bring MLS to Sacramento. His commitment to the city and delivering for its passionate soccer fans should make all citizens of Sacramento proud.
"Interest in owning a club in Major League Soccer has never been higher. And I remain incredibly optimistic about finalizing expansion plans for our 30th team."
According to ESPN, Burkle’s departure came after the cost of Sacramento’s proposed stadium went up from $300 million to $400 million, and expected infrastructure expenditures rose from $27 million to $47 million.
Major League Soccer will include 27 teams for the upcoming 2021 season, including expansion club Austin FC.
An expansion team in Charlotte, N.C., is due to begin play in 2022, and an expansion club in St. Louis is set to start play in 2023.
--Field Level Media