If the Republic is granted entry into MLS, it’s because a city and region refused to lose

If Major League Soccer (MLS) awards Sacramento with an expansion franchise, a reality that may come to fruition as early as December, it will be because a young, scrappy and hungry Sacramento refused to throw away its shot too.

As I have previously opined, when the Republic arrived in 2014, there was a sense that this was exactly what Sacramento needed. The Republic dared us to dream big, and made us believe that Sacramento (a city that had historically either said no or froze at opportunity) could become the vibrant, hip city that we’re now seeing emerge. Seemingly overnight, the Republic became part of the fabric and pride of Sacramento.

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Sac Soccer announces new executive team with familiar names

Sacramento Republic FC’s ownership group Sac Soccer Holdings & Entertainment Holdings has announced a new executive team, with some names familiar in local sports business.

Kunal Merchant and Ben Gumpert will be in the respective roles of senior adviser and chief operating officer/senior adviser for Sac Soccer. Merchant played a visible role in the Sacramento Kings’ recent effort to put the team under new ownership and then build a new downtown arena, while Gumpert came from the NBA front office in 2013 to help launch new initiatives under the Kings’ new owners.

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Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings Announces Senior Leadership Team


Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings Announces Senior Leadership Team

Top Executives will Oversee Continued Growth of Sacramento Republic FC and Progress on Major League Soccer Bid Under Direction of Chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle

SACRAMENTO, Calif., August 16, 2017  Today, Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings (SSEH), the parent company of Sacramento Republic FC (Republic FC), announced its senior leadership team to oversee Republic FC and Sacramento’s ongoing bid to join Major League Soccer (MLS). The announcement builds upon the May 2017 acquisition of Republic FC by SSEH Chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle to fully unite and align Sacramento’s bid for MLS.

“As we look to continuously grow and improve Republic FC, I’m proud to formalize the roles of a stellar team of individuals leading our club and our bid for MLS,” said Mr. Nagle. “This group understands my vision for Republic FC and brings together the perfect combination of leadership, determination, expertise and passion to make Sacramento an MLS city.”

Reporting to Mr. Nagle, each of SSEH’s senior leadership team members possesses extensive experience with Sacramento’s MLS bid, Republic FC, and Sacramento professional sports community:

Ben Gumpert, SSEH Chief Operating Officer and Chief Advisor. 

Ben will oversee the full range of Republic FC’s operations and co-lead the MLS bid effort, with a specific focus on MLS business operations and stadium development. Ben joined SSEH in January 2017 as a consultant to Republic FC and the MLS bid. Ben previously served as Chief Marketing Officer for the Sacramento Kings during the development of Golden 1 Center and as a Vice President at the National Basketball Association in the Team Marketing and Business Operations group (TMBO) in New York.  A native of Sacramento, Ben earned his B.A. in Business-Economics from UCLA and M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Kunal Merchant, SSEH Senior Advisor, MLS Bid and Stadium.

Kunal will continue to provide strategic and management support to SSEH as co-lead of the MLS bid, with a specific focus on MLS league relations, stadium development, and strategic communications.  Kunal has served as a consultant to SSEH since June 2015. Kunal previously served as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the Sacramento Kings, Executive Director of Think BIG Sacramento, and Chief of Staff to former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, where he played a central role in the successful effort to save the Kings and develop the Golden 1 Center. Kunal earned his A.B. in Economics and M.B.A. from Harvard University.

Michael Thomas, SSEH Financial Officer and Senior Advisor.

Michael will provide financial oversight and accountability over the full range of SSEH and Republic FC operations. Michael has advised SSEH since May 2014. Michael’s career includes senior level corporate finance positions across the banking and the energy sectors.  Michael earned his B.A. in Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara and M.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame Graduate School of Business.

Jeff Koewler, SSEH Outside General Counsel.

Jeff will provide guidance on the full range of SSEH and Republic FC legal and financial matters, with a specific focus on corporate strategy, finance transactions, contract review, and legal compliance. Jeff has advised SSEH since May 2014. Jeff is a Partner at Delfino Madden O’Malley Coyle and Koewler, where he assists over 50 clients on corporate law and transaction matters throughout the US. Jeff earned his B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

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Sac Republic FC Holds Town Hall Meeting

Erika Bjork with the Sacramento Republic FC talked with Kitty O’Neal about hosting a town hall Tuesday night as part of the club’s #BringItHome initiative. The goal of that initiative is to engage with more than 20,000 fans in 2017. The was planned for the Beatnik Studios from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. and with a focus on integrating art and culture in a Major League Soccer stadium.

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Sacramento is ready for MLS, but will it be passed over again for expansion?

It’s easy to see why soccer fans in Sacramento are confident their city will soon field a Major League Soccer team.

The Sacramento Republic has created a sustained buzz in a city known more for state politics than for sports, leading the United Soccer League in sellouts and cultivating a supporters culture many MLS teams would envy.

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As Appetite for Soccer in U.S. Grows, So Does M.L.S.

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber was having a moment.

On a sunny morning in mid-July, Garber arrived in Nashville to meet with politicians, business leaders and sports executives eager to bring an M.L.S. team to the city. The two-day fact-finding mission was part of a 12-city tour being conducted by Garber and his deputy, Mark Abbott, to determine which of the dozen cities will be chosen as home to the two expansion teams M.L.S. plans to approve this year.

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Sacramento a sure bet to get Major League Soccer team? How city broke from the pack.

Although professional sports leagues routinely throw last-second curveballs that ruin expansion plans, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber appears to be sticking to his script.

Miami is within a toenail of the finish line, Sacramento is only a few feet back and breathing hard, trailed by a handful of cities scrambling to break out of the pack.

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MLS Commissioner Garber Indicates Beckham’s Miami Expansion Dream Nears Reality

Miami would be the league’s 24th club (No. 23 Los Angeles FC enters in 2018), and the commissioner said MLS remains on track to identify teams No. 25 and 26 following its December board meeting. Sacramento Republic remains favored to earn one of those bids, and Garber said the USL club’s decision to begin preparation work at its stadium site last week “was a great move on their part.”

“The path to MLS has never been more clear,” Republic owner Kevin Nagle said in a statement provided to SI.com. “We appreciate Commissioner Garber’s comments today in support of Sacramento and are now laser focused on the expansion vote at MLS Cup this December. It’s time to bring it home and deliver the MLS team our fans and community deserve.”

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Carmichael Dave: Get Used To It- Sacramento Will Be An MLS City

At the MLS All-Star game in Chicago Wednesday night, a contingent from Sacramento was there to hear Commissioner Don Garber praise the efforts of the up and coming potential expansion team.

Garber uses the All-Star game like many commissioners do, as a chance to hold court on league activities, a sort of state of the union if you will. When the subject of expansion came up:

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