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Sacramento reportedly pursuing MLS franchise

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento Bee is reporting that Major League Soccer executives will meet with an ownership group from Sacramento to discuss elevating the Sacramento Republic minor league franchise to the MLS level.

The report states that the ownership group of the Sacramento Kings, led by Vivek Ranadive, is interested in investing in the Republic. The Republic are an expansion team in USL Pro, the third tier of soccer in the United States, behind MLS and the NASL. They recently set the USL Pro single-season attendance record.

Republic President Warren Smith said they have identified potential stadium sites near the downtown area. The new stadium is estimated to hold around 18,000 fans and cost nearly $100 million.

MLS currently has 19 teams, with New York FC and Orlando City FC scheduled to join in 2015, and Atlanta FC joining in 2017. The league wants to expand to 24 teams by 2020. Miami has been awarded the 23rd franchise, but it is contingent on building a downtown stadium.

Sacramento would be competing with Minneapolis and Las Vegas for the 24th franchise. San Antonio and Austin have also expressed interest.