With a location some 25 minutes away from downtown and inaccessible via mass transit, some local soccer fans are raising concerns about a new Austin USL stadium at the Circuit of The Americas.
Owner Bobby Epstein purchased a controlling interest in the old Austin Aztex USL team and announced a new stadium at his Circuit of The Americas, a location in southeast Austin that also features an FC Barcelona training center and a speedway. Sports facilities in the Austin area tend to be dispersed thoughout the region — the Round Rock Express Triple-A baseball team plays in suburban Round Rock and draws very well — but the vision of many soccer fans was a downtown stadium, accessible via mass transit and more in the middle of things.
Being in the middle of things, however, is expensive, especially in Austin, where any real estate in the center of town can be quite spendy. And while hipster culture loves the idea of biking to a downtown stadium, the economic reality of USL requires some affordable real estate or play in an existing venue. From the Austin American-Statesman:
“Our first choice would be a municipal stadium located in the heart of town,” Epstein said in an open letter to Violet Crown Soccer. “Near the Palmer Events Center or Convention Center would be our first choice, within walking distance of bars and restaurants. That takes tens of millions of dollars. It’s just not an option for 2019 and this team.”
Epstein decided to address fans directly. A criticism of Aztex management was lack of contact with the public.
“A lot of factors go into these sorts of decisions, and I trusted that if fans were provided all the information, they’d see, and appreciate, our rationale,” Epstein told the American-Statesman on Tuesday….
“The reality is that Austin has grown, downtown is expensive and not everything can be downtown,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, Cap Metro does not yet serve this part of the city. But it is very common for mass transit systems to add service for special events, and we are encouraging Cap Metro to do this.”
RELATED STORIES: Austin USL Team Returns in 2019