With financial limitations imposed by playing at a high-school football field, Austin Aztex owners say they’re looking to build their own temporary stadium for the 2016 USL season.
The team is the only USL franchise to play at a high-school field, but in Texas that’s not necessarily a bad thing: Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex seats 11,000 (including almost 1,000 chairbacks) and has a slew of amenities, including plenty of parking.
But the high-school field has one big drawback: No beer. And given that selling beer and other concessions is a big part of any sporting team’s economic model — as well as partnering with a distributor or brewer on a sponsorship deal — the long-term future of the team has to include beer. The economics of the game, therefore, are pushing Aztex owners to look at building a temporary stadium for next season. It doesn’t need to be more than bleachers and concessions, but it does need to happen — and could for about $5 million, per the Austin American-Statesman:
“We are looking at a temporary solution for 2016 and hope that it can tie into our longer-term MLS aspirations,” Aztex owner Rene van de Zande told the American-Statesman on Friday.
That solution, van de Zande said, would require finding a site, installing a field, renting or buying bleachers and building the infrastructure needed to pass USL inspection — all by late March, when next season will begin.
“We would like Austin to have a new facility for 2016,” said Tom Veit, USL senior vice president of marketing and brand development. “It’s very important for all our teams to play in top-quality venues.
As noted, it’s not impossible. Sacramento partnered with Ovations on a temporary facility, and next year’s expansion Rio Grande Valley team is currently building a temporary facility. The key is finding a site that can accommodate both the temporary facility as well as potential expansion for MLS — though Austin isn’t usually mentioned on the top tier of potential MLS expansion markets.