Before moving Austin more than 10 years ago, David Huffstutler lived in Houston and saw the impact that pro sports could have on a community. Now, he’s getting involved in a big way.
Huffstutler, the president and CEO of St. David’s HealthCare, was joined by Austin FC chairman and CEO Anthony Precourt and president Andy Loughnane on Wednesday to announce the Austin-based medical provider as the club’s first founding corporate partner and official healthcare partner.
“We became early interested early on knowing that this was going to be a first for Austin,” Huffstutler said. “We got to know the folks at Austin FC early on. They’re committed to fan experiences just as we’re committed to great experiences for people we work with.”
Details the sponsorship were not provided, but Huffstutler said the agreement is a ‘long-term, multi-year arrangement’ and it is a substantial partnership for St. David’s HealthCare.
Austin City Council members Jimmy Flannigan and Sabino Renteria, who have supported the MLS team coming to Austin since the beginning, were in attendance for the announcement.
The team’s training facility, with its to-be-announced location, will be known as the St. David’s Performance Center and all the training jerseys that are worn by first-team players and staff will have St. David’s branding on them.
St. David’s HealthCare will provide on-site medical support during all Austin FC home matches at McKalla Place stadium and provide health and wellness for all the players and staff. They will also sponsor 10 community camps each year.
“It’s super important for us to partner with local companies and Sta. David’s is one of the best companies in Texas and in Austin and has done so much good intros community,” Precourt said. “Working with hi integrity people is important as well and this feels like the best partner we could ask for.”
Precourt said the next big things for the club including continuing to build the front office, building soccer operations and launching the academy — which he expects to begin playing competitively this September.
This is just the first sponsorship milestone leading to the first game in 2021, including stadium and jersey partners in the coming months.
“We want to align with Austin’s best,” Loughnane said. “Our ambition requires us to have strong partners, and St. David’s certainly is best in class with a large workforce and strong community roots. Naturally, our businesses align.”
A group of protesters gathered outside the event at the Austin FC offices and had signs that called for Austin FC ownership to pay property taxes once the stadium is built as well as a traffic plan of the area surrounding the site.
“All the community benefits in the world will not offset a traffic nightmare,” said Craig Nazor of the ‘Friends of McKalla’ group. “All the community benefits will not generate $13 million for a train station or pay taxes into our school system. These aren’t fair trades from what I can see.”
Nazor added that the group isn’t against soccer in Austin but just wants more information.
Austin FC officials said traffic studies are well underway, but can’t be completed until the design and development phases are completed.