Mayor Backs Austin MLS Stadium Proposal

Austin MLS stadium McKalla Place rendering 2

While not all elected officials are happy with the terms of an Austin MLS stadium proposal, mayor Steve Adler has come out with his support for the plan. 

Precourt Sports Ventures is attempting to move Columbus Crew SC to Austin, and is negotiating a plan for a new stadium with city officials. Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt is seeking to privately finance a $200 million stadium at McKalla Place, a 24-acre city-owned parcel in North Austin. Under revised terms, the city would maintain control of the land, meaning that PSV would not pay property taxes. However, PSV would lease the land for $550,000 annually after year five, or $8.25 million over the initial 20-year agreement.

Austin officials are expected to discuss the proposal considerably over the next two weeks, starting with a special meeting that is scheduled for Wednesday. The fact that PSV would not pay property taxes under the proposal has prompted criticism in some circles, but Adler is defending the lease as a viable financial option for the city. More from the Austin American-Statesman:

Critics who point to lost property taxes if the city rents the land to Precourt instead of selling it to a developer are off target, Adler said.

“I don’t know exactly how much that land is worth, but say it’s worth $20 million,” he said. “The amount of property taxes on a $20 million piece of land is about $88,000 a year. What PSV is offering to pay in rent is much higher than that.”

The term sheet calls for PSV to pay $8.25 million over the first 20 years, an average of $412,500 a year.

As noted, however, not all elected officials are sold on the proposal, including councilmember Leslie Pool, whose district includes McKalla Place. In comments to the media, Pool has expressed her dissatisfaction with some of the terms in the revised proposal and believes that the city should pursue a better agreement. More from the Austin-American Statesman:

“As talks continue, my hope is that Precourt will be more willing to negotiate with the council to bring us closer to what the public and the council told them we want to see,” she said.

Pool told the Austin Monitor on Monday, “Even though there is rent coming in, you still have Austin schools, Travis County and other entities that have nothing. There’s still lots of vague language, rail is mentioned but just indicating them as a possible partner, and when it comes to shuttles they’re banking on Cap Metro to help out a lot. There needs to be serious detail and clarity.”

In late June, the city council approved two resolutions relating to McKalla Place prior to taking a summer break. 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. With revised terms for the stadium deal in place, the city council will be discussing it over the next two weeks. That includes a special meeting Wednesday, followed by a work session on August 7, and an August 9 meeting where a vote could take place.

The Crew is seeking to move to Austin in time for the 2019 MLS season, and would likely spend two years at an existing venue in the area until the new stadium opens in 2021. However, no relocation plans have been finalized to this point.

Rendering courtesy Gensler Sports Practice.

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