12 Days of Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis; Day 3 - The Mayor Has Left The City; Was He Ever Serious About the MLS?

December 12, 2016 |

In two days from today, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis will leave office. In honor of his last 12 days in office, we will take a look back at some of the most memorable aspects of Davis' tenure. 

Over the last several days, we have outlined portions of Mayor Gary Davis' legacy for Elk Grove. Two of the his highest profile, though still incomplete initiatives have been the civic center aquatics center and the soccer stadium and fields.

Although Davis' two signature projects continues to be nothing more than words on commissioned feasibility studies collecting dust at City Hall, there is one aspect of one of these proposals that was not addressed earlier in this series. The project is the soccer stadium, specifically the visit to Elk Grove by a Major League Soccer delegation.  

Although Elk Grove's shot at the MLS expansion franchise and financing of a stadium were long shots at best, Davis was and has been unwilling to this day to admit defeat. Even when evidence continued to mount that not only was Sacramento the preferred location in the region for the MLS, at one point Davis brazenly suggested the MLS could cede the Miami franchise rights of soccer superstar David Beckham for two teams in the area.

Needless to say, Elk Grove is, thankfully, out of the running for the expansion club. There is something to say though about Davis' insistence that Elk Grove was still in the game and that was the MLS did include the City's proposed soccer stadium site on their September 2014 visit to Sacramento.

For those who do not recall, when an MLS delegation visited Sacramento, they scheduled some time to hear Elk Grove's pitch. Included were a visit to City Hall, a PowerPoint presentation, and tour of the site of the proposed stadium, complete with four car-dealer type balloons on each of the corners of the 99-acre City-owned parcel on Grant Line Road.

While Elk Grove's pitch did not include the pizzaz of Sacramento's pitch which included a massive greeting upon their arrival at Sacramento International Party and a Midtown street party featuring the Tower Bridge Battalion, as a group of dedicated fans of the local minor league soccer team, Republic FC.

even though Elk Grove could not compete with the dog and pony show put on by Sacramento for a variety of reasons, there was one thing that they could have equaled Sacramento, and even in that area, Davis failed.

While Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was the point-person for Sacramento's throughout their Think Big pitch, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis was AWOL. That's right, for the crucial meeting between the City and the MLS, Mayor Davis Has Left the City!

For all the times Davis had mugged for local TV news cameras talking up the prospects of bringing an MLS professional team and packing City Council meetings with soccer families making a laundry list of still unfulfilled promises, at the moment when he could have made an impassioned pitch, he was conspicuously absent.

Why, at this time when he could have made a pitch, a strong pitch, for all his soccer-loving constituents he decided not to adjust his schedule - he is the Mayor and with it comes certain responsibilities - is one of those questions that will never be addressed publicly. It is just strange that the person who tried to score a professional sports team would be AWOL when he could have had the most effect.

All of this leads to the question just what were Davis' motives for pitching this idea? Was he trying to buy votes for a few years, or was it some more insidious?

Could it be that the purchase of the 99-acres, which lies outside of current city limits, was just a smokescreen, a backdoor if you will, to bring that portion back into the City of Elk Grove's annexation plan? These questions will be answered in the years to come as we watch what becomes of those 99-acres and other adjacent properties.  


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