McKalla Place remains on the table as a potential Austin MLS stadium site, though its various pros and cons are still being considered.
Ever since the October announcement that Columbus Crew SC would explore a move to the city, there has been considerable discussion over where an Austin MLS stadium would be built. The Austin City Council was presented a report in December that listed city-owned sites that could be used for the stadium, including Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, Roy Guerrero Metropolitan Park, the Travis County Exposition Center, McKalla Place, and a former Home Depot at St. Johns Avenue and Interstate 35. While a preferred site has not been announced by Crew SC owner Precourt Sports Ventures, all but two from that report–McKalla Place and Guerrero Park–have been removed from consideration.
For an MLS stadium, the 24-acre McKalla Place site in North Austin offers some challenges, including potential environmental concerns because its history of use by chemical companies and access issues. However, a nearby mixed-use development known as the Domain has been a success and could be a good compliment to the stadium. Furthermore, this site is not parkland, a notable distinction given some of the opposition that has surfaced about using park space for a stadium. For now, officials are indicating that McKalla Place is a viable contender, but that the access issues would have to be resolved. More from The Austin American-Statesman:
“McKalla is a viable option. You could get excited thinking about the potential for linkage to the Domain,” Austin MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle, who works for PSV, told the Statesman. “I am concerned whether fans in South Austin would consider it too far away.”
PSV President Dave Greeley said McKalla Place comes with challenges.
“A major issue is immediate access,” he said. “The first time I went there, I couldn’t find it. You go to the (Paragon) print shop, stop and look left. Short of drone deliveries, I’m not sure how you get fans in there. It’s kind of the donut hole in the middle of the donut.”
Brew pubs have sprung up near McKalla Place. And it isn’t far from MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and U.S. 183 and is bordered by Braker Lane and Burnet Road. Yet the property doesn’t have an entry, lacks sidewalks and could use a walking bridge over Braker Lane to connect to the Domain.
Public opposition was a factor in PSV dropping Butler Shores from consideration, despite its initial enthusiasm for the site, and some community members have already voiced their sentiment against the potential use of Guerrero Park. In regard to Crew SC’s future, no final decision has been made on whether the team will relocate, and it will spend the 2018 MLS season at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.
Rendering courtesy Precourt Sports Ventures.
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