The Austin City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to instruct city staff to identify city-owned sites that could be used for a Major League Soccer team.
The Council amended the resolution to include sites outside to the downtown core and updating language that broadened the teams/organizations in addition to Precourt Sports Ventures, the ownership group for Columbus Crew SC, that could bring a team to Austin.
“The reason we’re having this conversation is that an MLS team is coming to Austin and (Precourt Sports Ventures) has said they want to be here,” Mayor Steve Alder said. “If that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Many of the speakers from the MLS2ATX rally held earlier that night outside city hall spoke in front of the City Council, including a high school soccer player, former professional player, and numerous members of Lonestar SC, a youth soccer group in the Austin area.
Sean Foley started Austin Sports & Entertainment last year with a focus on getting a sports and entertainment hub in District 1, which stretches from the East side of downtown to Walter Long Lake.
He said they have been “heads down” on the desire to bring a venue to the area and added they’re trying to secure private funding and private land in alignment with Rodeo Austin.
Councilmember Leslie Pool brought up concerns that PSV would be funding the entire project. She also cited concerns about Columbus being the only team eligible for the site resolution.
"There are 12 other cities in the country competing to get an expansion team and get exactly what we’re doing offered here tonight and not have to go through the expansion process,” said Richard Suttle, an MLS lobbyist in Austin working on behalf of PSV. “As part of that, Anthony Precourt has said he’s not looking for public funding for the stadium. I don’t know how I can be any more broad than that.
"There is only one opportunity for an MLS team and that’s this one."
The results of the resolution will be reviewed at the City work session on Dec. 5 and the City Council Meeting on Dec. 7
PSV released a statement soon after the decision: “While this is an early step, it is an important one that underscores Precourt Sports Ventures’ belief that Austin would be an excellent home for a Major League Soccer club. We are encouraged by Council’s decision and look forward to working with city staff to find an appropriate site with the potential to provide extensive community benefits to greater Austin and its residents.”