Did Austin Stadium Approval Kill San Antonio MLS Hopes?

Austin MLS stadium McKalla Place rendering 1

With the Austin City Council approving the term sheet for a new MLS stadium in the city’s McKalla Place area, there are a few instances of collateral damage — and hopes of a San Antonio MLS team is one.

The biggest collateral damage, of course, comes in Columbus, where losing the Crew as soon as 2019 is a big blow to local soccer fans. And while there is still a shot at retaining the team through legal means (which we discuss here), relying on a never-used law considered by many to be vague is always a crapshoot.

The other collateral damage, which we discussed here, comes in nearby San Antonio, where the establishment of an Austin MLS team very likely closes the door on San Antonio’s MLS hopes. That’s the view of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a local leader in the political/sports scene. San Antonio, led by Spurs Sports & Entertainment, had made a pitch for an MLS expansion franchise. MLS officials have been clear that an Austin/San Antonio rivalry was not going to happen, leading to Wolff dismissing the league. From the San Antonio Express-News:

“This kind of clears the soccer thing out of the way,” Wolff said. “We don’t have to worry about that any more. If people tell you we can still get one, don’t believe them. You wouldn’t even want one if you had to compete with an MLS team right down the street.”…

In his interview with the Express-News after the Austin vote, Wolff also indicated he has cooled on the idea of San Antonio landing a team in Liga MX, the Mexican first division.

When SS&E has sponsored soccer matches at the Alamodome featured Mexico’s national team or Mexican League teams, attendance has been robust.

“There are still people that think we can get a breakthrough where we can have more of an international league focusing on Mexico, but I don’t know,” Wolff said. “There have been so many scandals and crooked things going on with soccer, I don’t know who controls what. But if we did that (join Liga MX), it would be even better for us than MLS. … We were really treated in a very poor manner (by MLS).”

The loss of MLS may have one brighter spot for local sports fans: it could lead for increased civic support for a new Triple-A ballpark, as the Pacific Coast League will begin play in 2019 at Wolff Stadium.

Rendering courtesy Gensler Sports Practice.

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