Councilmembers Call for Revised Austin MLS Stadium Terms

Austin MLS stadium McKalla Place rendering 2

Ahead of a crucial meeting Thursday, four city councilmembers are calling for revised Austin MLS stadium terms that require a greater financial commitment from Precourt Sports Ventures

PSV is seeking to relocate Columbus Crew SC to Austin, and is working to come to terms with Austin officials on an agreement to construct a new stadium at the city-owned McKalla Place in North Austin. The group is hoping to have a city council vote Thursday that would authorize negotiation of agreements for its MLS proposal, but a few councilmembers want the current terms amended.

The councilmembers–including Leslie Pool, whose district includes McKalla Place–released the amendment package on Tuesday. There are numerous areas covered by the proposal, but many of them call for a greater financial commitment from PSV. For instance, the terms propose an escalating annual rent beginning at $958,720, a stipulation that PSV fund a new Capital Metro rail station (estimated at about $12 million), and escalating annual payments starting at $958,720 that would be spread among the Austin Independent School District, Travis County government, Austin Community College, and Central Health (none of these governmental entities receive funding from the currently proposed terms). Also up for proposal is a $3 ticket surcharge to fund mobility improvements in the area, the Housing Trust Fund, and the General Fund, as well as a stipulation that a final agreement be returned for council approval.

Pool is hailing the terms as a better agreement for the city than what has been proposed, but PSV–which says it will review the terms–expressed early skepticism about their financially feasibility. More from the Austin-American Statesman:

“Our package would help put a cap on the cost and risk to taxpayers and make sure PSV is going to meet their end of the bargain,” Pool said. It doesn’t have everything we want, but we think it takes us in the right direction.

“Ultimately, I think our package, like the intriguing alternative proposals we heard about (Tuesday), helps put all our options on the table.”

A PSV spokesman told the American-Statesman his group can’t bend much more financially and justify the numbers.

“We are in the process of reviewing the new proposals,” said Austin MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle. “At first glance it appears the proposals in their entirety would effectively make bringing MLS to Austin virtually impossible.

“We will analyze them in the next 24 hours in an effort to make MLS in Austin a reality. PSV has been negotiating with the city in good faith based on the past few resolutions passed by the council and the latest term sheet agreed upon by both sides.

Under recently revised Austin MLS stadium terms, Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt would privately finance a $200 million venue at McKalla Place. 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. In addition, the group would pay for site preparation and any cost overruns.

It remains to be seen what decision the council is going to make. Along with PSV’s plan, the city has received alternate development proposals for McKalla Place, with most favoring mixed-use concepts that do not include room for an MLS stadium. The council could decide to move forward with PSV, end discussions about the group’s concept and instead focus on an alternate development proposal, or pass on the all of the plans and leave the long-dormant site as is for the time being.

PSV is seeking to move the Crew to Austin by the 2019 MLS season, and begin play at an existing facility in the area before opening the new stadium in 2021. However, no relocation plans have been finalized to this point, though the status of any future discussions with Austin could be clearer after Thursday.

Rendering courtesy Gensler Sports Practice.

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