Austin City Council Passes McKalla Place Resolutions

Austin MLS stadium McKalla Place rendering 3

The Austin City Council has approved two resolutions relating to McKalla Place, leaving some optimism about efforts to lure Columbus Crew SC to the city. 

Precourt Sports Ventures is seeking to move the Crew to Austin, and is proposing the construction of a new $200 million stadium at McKalla Place–a city-owned 24-acre site in North Austin. Discussions have picked up in recent weeks as the Crew works to relocate by 2019, but two resolutions released ahead of Thursday left questions about how those talks would unfold. One with four co-sponsors–including Austin mayor Steve Adler and three council members–called for the city manager to analyze the proposal and begin negotiations for the stadium. Meanwhile, another with four co-sponsors–including council member Leslie Pool, whose district includes McKalla Place– called for the city to solicit development proposals for the site.

PSV had sought to secure an agreement by Thursday, as the Austin City Council is set to go on a summer break that lasts until August 9. The organization was initially concerned that the resolution to solicit proposals for the site would slow the process down and jeopardize a potential move, but some changes were made to that resolution ahead of the vote. Ultimately, the council approved both resolutions in a meeting that dragged into early Friday morning, leaving many–including Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt–encouraged by how the process could unfold. More from the Austin American-Statesman:

“It’s not optimal for us; it might slow things up a bit,” Precourt told the the American-Statesman. “But as long as the item passes, that’s what we’re hoping for. We’re confident.”…

It laid out the process that will now lead to the pivotal Aug. 9 meeting. While some, including Pool, wanted a traditional request for proposals for development of the 24-acre tract, the process suggested by the city staffers is much less complex.

Under the new process, any person or entity may submit a plan for development that addresses the goals stated in the resolution. Those plans will then be made public on the city’s website for McKalla. The city will not award a contract based on the information received, keeping it from becoming what the memo referred to as a “solicitation event.”

Pool struck the word “solicit” from her resolution, replacing it with “announce that the city will receive” plans for development of the McKalla Place site.

City staff is permitted to receive plans for McKalla Place through August 3. That would set up a decision by August 9, the council’s first meeting after its summer break.

The McKalla Place stadium proposal calls for Precourt to privately finance the venue in exchange for use of the land. If the agreement moves forward, the Crew would relocate to Austin next year and begin a two-season stint at an existing venue in the area until the new stadium opens in 2021. Negotiations over the MLS proposal are expected to focus on some areas of concern for Austin officials, including infrastructure spending, financial and legal protections for the city, and community benefits.

Rendering courtesy Gensler Sports Practice.

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