MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

MLS in Austin supporters group kicks off 'Fan Tour'

Membership has grown at least 10 percent a month since the beginning of the year

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The MLS in Austin supporters group kicked off their ‘Fan Tour’ on Saturday afternoon. 

The first stop was at NXNW Restaurant at Stonelake where they answered questions from supporters and announced a potential shift in focus if Columbus Crew SC move to Austin. 

“An event like this is the culmination,” MLS in Austin Director of Art and Brand Ryan Riggins said. “This is a regional event and the turnout is fantastic. It means so much to see people here literally taking that step forward to help our movement grow.”

The tour, which was created with an effort to showcase the group to different sections of Austin, will have another meet up in May at Austin Eastciders. They’ll take a break for the World Cup and get back into the swing of things in July and hope to have events in Round Rock, Cedar Park and other regions of the city. 

MLS in Austin founder and president Josh Babetski said membership has been grown by at least 10 percent a month since the beginning of the year. Additionally, he said 20 percent of the members have become paid supporters. 

The Austin City Council requested a report on the feasibility of McKalla Place as a stadium site by June 1. Babetski foresees more concrete info before Aug. 1. 

“I expect that before the All-Star Game, we’ll know if the team will be here in 2019,” he said. 

The leaders of MLS in Austin had an internal brainstorming session last week to go through branding things, update the group’s values and throw around a few new names. No new logos or names could be unveiled yet. 

“Our mission is to bring a club here,” Riggins said. “Once a club is here, we want to make sure that we’re representative of the city and our mission adapts once phase one is accomplished.”

Jeremiah Bentley is an Austin resident and came across the MLS in Austin group while attending an event with the Austin American Outlaws chapter. 

He said he’s always been one to get involved with groups and he’s excited at the prospect of having a professional team in Austin.

Bentley said he knows there are people in Austin that are excited about it that just aren’t coming to events or expressing support on social media and said those in charge need to hear from those in support of the move just as much as those opposed to it. 

“So much of public policy is based on who makes the noise, and if all the noise is coming from a small group of people that didn't like it for whatever reason, that’s what the elected officials are going to respond to,” he said. “That’s no fault of theirs because they can only respond to what they hear and who they hear it from. So it’s really important for the folks that are supportive to know that silence can be negative.”

Bentley brought his two young boys to the event on Saturday and said its important to also take the fan tour to places where families and kids are accepted, a prospect the supporters group was happy to do. 

“It will be really cool that 10 years from now, (my kids will) go in and watch MLS games and I’ll know they were around this kind of event,” Bentley said. “They might not remember it, but they were around when it all started." 

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