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Sacramento Republic names jersey sponsor for potential MLS spot

Brian McBride gives a glowing recommendation for Sacramento to join MLS, but questions why the expansion has been delayed.

Sacramento Republic FC has formalized a partnership establishing UC Davis Health as the team's jersey sponsor should the club be selected to be an MLS expansion franchise.

The five-year deal would run from Republic FC's first year in MLS -- which it hopes will be 2020 -- through the 2024 season.

"As I've said before, actions speak louder than words," said club CEO Kevin Nagle. "UC Davis Health has been a vital ally to Republic FC from day one, and its willingness to formalize our partnership sends a powerful message to MLS about how strong our market support is here in Sacramento."

Sacramento is one of 12 locations vying for an MLS expansion slot. The others are Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

MLS has said it will select two cities as expansion teams in mid-December, with another two cities to be named at a later date. 

Sacramento Republic FC currently plays at Papa Murphy's Park, with an average attendance of over 11,000.

Sacramento has long been considered among the front-runners in the race to be one of the first two cities named. Not only has the team established itself in the second-tier USL, with an average attendance of 11,569 during the 2017 season, but it also has a plan for a 19,621-seat stadium in which preliminary preparation on the site near the city's downtown railyard has already begun.

The jersey sponsorship is the latest move made by the club's ownership to cement its status.

"We are thrilled to support Sacramento Republic FC's bid for MLS," said Ann Madden Rice, CEO of UC Davis Medical Center. "Republic FC is one of the most beloved organizations in Sacramento, with an unparalleled reach into our region and genuine commitment to being a force for good in the community. We look forward to continuing our journey with Republic FC to MLS."

As part of the agreement, UCDH and Republic FC will allocate at least $300,000 toward community-based programs that focus on youth wellness, neighborhood outreach, public health clinics and youth sports clinics.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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