Updated 3:12 p.m. to include comment from Downtown Sacramento Partnership Executive Director Michael Ault
A long-neglected piece of land near Sacramento's downtown is preparing for a big boost on Monday, when Major League Soccer is expected to announce that its latest expansion will include the Sacramento Republic FC.
A proposed soccer stadium project would include a 17-acre entertainment and shopping district, bringing in $1 billion worth of private investment. The city is offering a $33 million incentive to help with property taxes and other city fees.
This development comes just as other projects are also lining up.
"I think we're poised for an absolute explosion in the Railyards," said Councilmember Jeff Harris, who represents the area where all of the development is slated to happen.
"As soon as we get an announcement from MLS, we're ready to go," Harris said. "Understand, we've been planning for this for five years."
Harris believes the stadium could be ready for the team to play its first MLS game in 2022. But before any construction can begin, some infrastructure must first put in place, including roads and underground pipes.
Business groups in the area hope the new stadium is likely to draw even more people to Downtown Sacramento, where traffic is already a worry. But Downtown Sacramento Partnership Executive Director Michael Ault told Insight Host Beth Ruyak that he sees potential for new opportunities for getting around downtown.
“Will there be some growing pains as this plays out? Absolutely there will, but I think we would hope the more events, the more activities, the more opportunities for people to come to the [downtown] core, I think it’s better," Ault said. "It will give people an opportunity to stay downtown after work and walk to some of these amenities, take public transit in.”
Another issue that has come up surrounding city subsidies for downtown developments like the stadium is homelessness in the area. Ault says he doesn’t think it has to be a question of developing downtown or combatting homelessness.
“I think that when we look across the state and talk to our partners in other urban centers, we are dealing with an unprecedented challenge related to homelessness and mental health,” Ault said. “It’s something I think the city and specifically the mayor has put as a key priority.”
Other major projects in the works for the area include Kaiser Permanente's main medical center and a $500 million Sacramento Superior Court building. Harris said there is also affordable and market-rate housing in the works.
There are also big plans for the historic buildings within the Railyards district. The future neighborhood sits on the site of the western terminus for the Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869.
“Two of [the old historic shops] I believe will become a railroad museum, sort of an addendum to the railroad museum that we already have,” said Harris. Other structures could host entertainment, restaurant, and breweries. “They could become a centerpiece for the entire city.”
Harris said the buildings require an infusion of money because they’re not seismically safe and need some work to maintain. But he said they’re part of the city's history and will stay.