With numerous questions surrounding the city’s MLS pursuit, an upcoming USL Austin franchise will now work toward a 2019 launch.
Last summer, details were announced for a revived USL Austin club, as Circuit of The Americas chairman Bobby Epstein unveiled plans for a soccer-specific venue at the Circuit of The Americas. At the time, it was revealed that the team would begin play in 2019.
However, those efforts seemingly came into question when Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt revealed in October that he was considering moving his club to Austin. As discussions over a new MLS stadium picked up, doubts began to surface that the USL Austin team would launch as planned. While discussions over a new MLS stadium are still unfolding, the effort has run into challenges when it comes to securing a site for a new stadium.
The USL, along with the Austin club’s ownership, will now work for the USL Austin team to begin play in 2019. More from The Austin American-Statesman:
USL Austin sat on idle for 4½ months, giving Anthony Precourt time to come up with a stadium solution. If the Crew were to relocate here, the division two franchise would request a move to another market.
“The league has told us we’ve got to get our franchise started or we risk losing it,” Epstein said Monday…..
“I’ve been fully rooting for the Crew to come here,” said USL Austin general manager Roberto Pinto da Silva Jr. “We were getting late for 2019. Now we’re in awkward spot.
“When this came about, we told (the) USL we thought it would be resolved by January, and then we would request a move to another market. It just doesn’t seem like the Crew are making any movement, so our focus should be on putting a team on the field.”
Crew SC has been reported to be looking to move to Austin as early as 2019, and would play at a temporary venue until the construction of a new MLS stadium is complete. However, several sites options for a proposed new stadium have been scratched over the last few weeks, and there is now a push to remove Guerrero Park from the list of candidates.
Should it begin play in 2019, the USL Austin club will not be the league’s only new entry. USL already has plans in place for a new Birmingham, AL franchise–Birmingham Legion FC–to begin play next year, while Memphis is preparing for a new club to play at AutoZone Park.
ELATED STORIES: USL Austin Plans Affected By Ongoing MLS Discussions; Epstein: Work on USL Austin at “Dead Stop”; City Council Approves Austin MLS Resolution;Austin MLS Team in Works? Columbus Crew SC Owner Threatens Move; USL Austin Still Considering Branding Options; Concerns Raised About New USL Austin Stadium Location; Austin USL Team Returns in 2019