Who Should Pay for Light Rail at New Austin MLS Stadium?

Austin MLS stadium site plan McKalla Place

The cost of a potential new Austin MLS stadium for the Columbus Crew may be rising, as local officials want the MLS team to pick up the costs of relocating a light-rail station to the proposed McKalla Place site.

Precourt Sports Ventures is proposing the North Austin site for a privately financed stadium that could cost as much as $200 million. As detailed in the site plan, the stadium would include a canopy over the seating bowl–a feature that could protect fans from the heat–and be surrounded by walkways and trails, a performance area, a bicycle valet, 1,000 parking spaces for cars, and access to Austin’s north-south light rail line. Right now the closest light-rail station is a half mile away, and city officials are indeed looking at moving it to the stadium site. Who pays for the move, however, is up for debate.

City officials say Precourt Sports Ventures should pay the $13 million price tag for moving the station. PSV seems to be pushing back on that concept, saying that while the team will benefit from the move of the light-rail station, so will the surrounding area. From the Austin Statesman:

Richard Suttle, an Austin MLS lobbyist working for PSV, said the proposed station relocation is an interesting option, though not essential for a stadium.

“It appears that the relocation of the station would be a benefit to getting people to and from the stadium, but the scope and cost of the station project exceeds the benefit to the stadium project,” Suttle said.

“In the initial analysis, it would be difficult to justify paying the full cost of a station relocation, extra track and bridge reconstruction for 17 home games, on top of the projected $200 million PSV has said it will privately spend on stadium construction.”

Site concept courtesy Gensler.

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