With city officials considering a pitch to bring MLS’s Columbus Crew SC to town, there is now some uncertanity surrounding a USL Austin franchise.
Back in October, Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt announced that he was exploring a potential move of his club to Austin. That announcement came months after it was revealed that Circuit of The Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein was moving forward with plans for a revived USL Austin club. Epstein’s plan called for the club to stage home matches at a new stadium to be constructed at the Circuit of Americas, and to begin play for the 2019 season.
Now, however, there are some questions surrounding Epstein’s effort, particularly as city officials move forward with discussions surrounding an MLS stadium. Earlier this week, it was learned that the Austin City Council will not take action on a stadium site until February 1, 2018, but that date has since been pushed back to February 15.
Given the work needed to construct the stadium and assemble the team, time is running short for USL Austin to debut in 2019. Additionally, Epstein is expressing doubt that the USL plan will still be viable if the city lands an MLS club. More from The Austin American-Statesman:
Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein, who announced in August that he was launching a United Soccer League franchise in ‘19, said his project is not viable if an MLS team comes to Austin. Columbus Crew SC ownership is exploring a move to the Texas capital.
“We believe the Crew are coming to Austin and look forward to them bringing pro soccer to our city,” Epstein said Thursday. “Logically, we stopped work on building a facility or hiring staff upon their announcement.
“If their plans change, we would be happy to re-energize our efforts, but at this stage, we are nearly too late for 2019.”
Crew SC is slated to spend the 2018 MLS campaign at its current home, MAPFRE Stadium. The club could begin play at a temporary venue in Austin as early as 2019, though with its relocation still not finalized, the timing of when a move could take place remains to be seen.
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