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City of Austin study finds McKalla Place ‘suitable’ for MLS stadium, possible future home of Crew SC

(Courtesy of Gensler, TBG and CAA ICON)

Weeks ago, Austin City Council passed a resolution commissioning a study on whether or not McKalla Place, which is described as “24 acres of underutilized land in fast growing North Austin,” has the ability to be the location of a Major League Soccer stadium.

Today, that 34 page study was released. The purpose of the study is not to say if a stadium is the best use of the land. The study is designed simply to say if a stadium is feasible, and if so, what the associated costs would be. City council will ultimately determine the best use of the land.

The assessment begins bluntly, summarizing that “McKalla Place is a suitable site for a Major League Soccer stadium. There is current compliant zoning, sufficient utility capacity, and daily on-site trips would be low.”

Good news for Columbus Crew SC investor Precourt Sports Ventures, which is pushing to move the team to Austin. PSV released renderings of a potential Austin stadium on Thursday, and shortly after the city’s report came out Friday, released its 189-page proposal to the City of Austin “detailing the terms involved in building​ a privately financed, soccer-specific stadium at 10414 McKalla Place.”

However, the Austin Economic Development Department report continues,  “Alternatively, if a Major League Soccer stadium was not sited at McKalla Place, the parcel could be redeveloped via a Request for Proposal Process, which could evaluate potential uses such as affordable housing, creative space, parks, and partnerships with non-profits, as had been previously outlined by City staff at the March 6 City Council Work Session on redevelopment of city land. Staff will continue to follow the process outlined at that Work Session for redevelopment of City owned parcels.”

Getting the site ready for a soccer stadium would come at a cost. Per the study, to get basic utilities and transportation — such as water, waste and upgrades to roads and transit — up to capacity for a stadium, it would cost roughly $30 million. After a summary of the costs, the survey notes, “Typically the City would request the developer to pay for these costs but the sharing of those costs can be negotiated through a public-private partnership.”

Read the full report from the City of Austin Economic Development Department

Parking has been a hot-button topic on the stadium plans, as the 20,000 seat stadium is only expected to have 1,000 parking spots. This would put visitors at a disadvantage when it comes to travel and force them to consider alternative measures, something the survey determines to be a positive due to “greater control of traffic entering and exiting the site at peak times.”

“It also encourages patrons to choose alternative transportation options,” the report reads. “Locating a sports facility in a mixed-use entertainment district allows for temporal dispersion of patrons by providing a place to go for food and beverages instead of contributing to increased vehicular traffic. Locating remote parking and pick-up zones nearby but not immediately adjacent to a stadium helps to disperse crowds of pedestrians leaving all at once at the end of a game.

“If City Council chooses to proceed further with PSV on an MLS Stadium located at McKalla Place, a full Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) would be conducted in conjunction with the zoning and/or site plan process. If the analysis determines that off-site transportation improvements are warranted by the traffic generated, a TIA mitigation plan would be developed to determine PSV’s responsibility for improvements.”

Proposed site plan for Austin stadium. (MLS2ATX.com)

The Austin Transportation Department also released a three-page memorandum that gives more detail on how people would get to the stadium.

“Approximately 10,000 patrons would be accommodated by shuttles circulating to designated parking lots and terminating at Metropolitan Drive near the site. The Applicant [PSV] has begun discussions with the owners of the Domain located on the west side of Burnet Road to use large office parking facilities which would be otherwise underutilized during game times. The Applicant has identified other possible larger sites within the vicinity of the site but not yet started discussions with these property owners.”

All in all, the report is a win for those in favor of moving the Columbus Crew SC to Austin. It does not detail any issues that cannot be overcome, downplays the noted negatives and provides a rosy look at the economic impact.

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