Pending legislation that could allow other jurisdictions to collect property taxes from an upcoming Austin FC stadium could hamper the viability of the club, according to the president of Precourt Sports Ventures.
Backed by Anthony Precourt‘s Precourt Sports Ventures, Austin FC is slated to begin MLS play in 2021 at a new stadium at the city-owned McKalla Place in North Austin. Under its agreement with the city, PSV will privately finance a $240 million stadium at the site, with the facility to fall under city ownership. PSV would not pay property taxes, but instead enter into a 20-year lease with the city for $1 for the first five years before rent payments jump to $550,000 beginning in year six.
The city’s agreement prevents other taxing jurisdictions from collecting property taxes on the stadium, an aspect that has drawn criticism from Travis County officials, among others. A bill introduced by State Senator Paul Bettencourt would effectively allow other eligible jurisdictions to opt-in to collecting property tax from the stadium, and it is currently being debated by state lawmakers.
Bettencourt and proponents of the bill contend that the existing agreement is flawed, but PSV is coming out in opposition of the legislation. When testifying against the bill on Tuesday, PSV president Dave Greeley claimed that it could jeopardize the club’s future. More from the Austin American-Statesman:
Dave Greeley, president of PSV, made the statement during a hearing of the Senate’s Property Tax Committee, which is chaired by Senate Bill 1771′s author, Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston. The bill would allow other tax entities to opt in to collecting property tax on a stadium being built on city-owned land in North Austin.
“This bill would jeopardize the viability of Austin FC,” Greeley said. “We are 100% privately financing (the stadium’s construction). Our funding mechanism and debt obligation would be in peril, on top of millions in economic impact and thousands of jobs.”
While taxing jurisdictions like the city of Austin often own land that is tax exempt, the Austin City Council entered into a “murky agreement” that “exposed a flaw” in the property tax system when the council inked a contract to lease the McKalla Place tract to Precourt for the construction of Austin FC’s home stadium, said James Quintero of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank….
The deal has drawn criticism for the City Council unilaterally deciding to make the stadium exempt not only to property taxes from the city but also those imposed by the Austin school district, Travis County and other entities. Travis County Commissioners have asked the county attorney to challenge the deal.
There was no vote on the bill on Tuesday, and it is still currently pending in committee. Austin FC is hoping to break ground on the stadium in September, with a goal of completing the facility by the 2021 MLS season.
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