The Austin City Council could hold a special meeting next week on an Austin MLS stadium proposal, a discussion that would come ahead of a key August 9 meeting. Meanwhile, a local political action committee is calling for a public vote on the project.
Precourt Sports Ventures continues to explore a move of Columbus Crew SC to Austin, with a new stadium at the center of its relocation pitch. The proposal calls for Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt to privately finance a $200 million stadium at McKalla Place, a 24-acre city-owned parcel in North Austin. As part of what has been proposed, the land would be leased for $1 annually and property taxes would be waived.
Discussions over that proposal have continued during the Austin City Council’s summer break, scheduled to conclude August 9. There is now a call for a special meeting next week, however, which would give the council a chance to review the latest proposal before the pivotal August 9 meeting. More from the Austin American-Statesman:
The Austin City Council could hold a special meeting next week to take its first crack at a proposal that calls for using public land to lure Major League Soccer to the city. The proposed meeting would precede a make-or-break City Council discussion about the issue Aug. 9.
On Thursday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler posted on the council’s online message board that he and Council Member Kathie Tovo have discussed having the council meet Wednesday or Aug. 2 to take public comment and discuss the possibility of using the city-owned McKalla Place tract for a 20,000-seat soccer stadium.
Anthony Precourt, the owner and operator of Columbus Crew SC — an original MLS franchise — is in negotiations with the city to use the North Austin site for a Major League Soccer stadium, which would be home to the relocated Columbus, Ohio, franchise. The council is slated to decide Aug. 9 whether to approve Precourt’s request or consider other bids for the land near the Domain.
Precourt first announced last October that he was exploring a move of the Crew, which could take place by the 2019 MLS season. The club could spend two years at an existing facility in the Austin area before opening the new McKalla Place stadium in 2021, but no relocation plans have been finalized to this point.
In the meantime, IndyAustin–a local political action committee–is beginning a possible petition drive that could force a vote on any deal between the city and PSV. In a recent announcement, IndyAustin outlined several contentions with the stadium proposal, including what it sees a rushed process from the city. It also outlined multiple options for those opposed to the proposed agreement, with a public vote among them. More from Austin Monitor:
IndyAustin is in the very early stages of a possible petition drive to bring about a vote on any agreement City Council reaches with Precourt Sports Ventures, the owners of the Columbus Crew soccer team, to construct a 20,000-seat stadium that would become the team’s new home as early as 2021. In an announcement on its website the group lists a public vote as one of the political options for opponents of the proposed deal, with recall campaigns and support for opponents of incumbent Council members as two of the other options.
City staff are currently negotiating a possible deal on the 24-acre parcel with PSV and Council is expected to vote on the deal at its Aug. 9 meeting. IndyAustin’s announcement says the negotiation has been rushed and Council members are likely to secure a less attractive deal than what would happen in a more traditional bargaining scenario to bring a pro sports team to the city.
“Soccer is a fine sport and can be a unifier when its purpose is honest and clear,” the announcement reads in part. “Our read is that it is more likely a straight up rip-off of Austin to the tune of tens of millions of public dollars. Because it’s being rushed so fast, we may not know just how bad it is before Council passes it as early as August 9th. This is why calling for a public vote on the soccer stadium is so very important.”
Prior to its summer break, the city council approved two resolutions relating to McKalla Place. That included a resolution directing the city manager to analyze the proposal and undertake negotiations with PSV while soliciting community engagement, along with another that allows staff to receive other proposals for McKalla Place. How the discussions take shape in the coming weeks remains to be seen, but one way or the other the proposal is clearly hitting a critical stretch.
Rendering courtesy Gensler Sports Practice.
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