The city of Austin, Texas, took a step forward Wednesday toward landing a Major League Soccer team.
The city and Precourt Sports Ventures — whose CEO, Anthony Precourt, is the investor-operator of the Columbus Crew — finalized an agreement to build a soccer stadium on city-owned land. Spencer Cronk, the city manager, signed a lease and development agreement with PSV, paving the way for a privately-funded $225 million, 20,000-seat soccer park and stadium to be built at McKalla Place on the north side of the city.
The stadium and all of its construction costs and operating expenses will be funded by PSV. The city will own the stadium and the land and lease it to PSV, with the group paying rent over a 20-year lease term.
“We are thrilled to have taken this significant step toward bringing Major League Soccer to Austin and building a world-class soccer park,” Precourt said in a statement. “We are extremely grateful to the City of Austin for allowing us to become a part of this wonderful community, and we are honored that through building this stadium we will be able to create jobs, provide a first-rate soccer and entertainment complex and bring a unifying platform for all of Austin to rally behind — all at no cost to the taxpayer.”
Located at 10414 McKalla Place, the stadium will sit on 24 acres of land that has been vacant for more than 25 years. The stadium will be open-air, featuring natural grass. It will also serve as an entertainment and multipurpose venue for the city. The site will also feature a park and open space, open year-round to the public.
“Bringing major league sports to Austin will help bring all parts of our diverse city together, so today’s lease signing is very exciting for our community,” Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, said in a statement from PSV. “The partnership between the team, the League and the City is a great deal for Austin. I can’t wait for us to celebrate our first MLS championship.”
In a statement released by PSV, the group says Austin FC will begin MLS play in either 2020 or 2021. The date will be determined by MLS.
“Austin is a thriving, dynamic and multi-cultural city, and we are very excited that the city and Precourt Sports Ventures have finalized their lease which will allow for the construction of a soccer stadium and for the launch of an MLS club in the capital of Texas,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “The tremendous support from Austin’s passionate soccer fans, corporate community and local government is remarkable.”
The deal was built on terms that the Austin city council approved in a 7-4 vote in August. The vote came after a land search and council debate that went as far back as October 2017, when Precourt announced he was exploring the option of moving Columbus Crew SC to Austin. Precourt bought the Crew from Clark Hunt in 2013 for $68 million.
But the Crew, an original MLS franchise, will stay in Ohio with a new ownership group led by Jimmy and Dee Haslam, who also own the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. The sale is not yet complete. Meanwhile, Precourt and MLS are still fighting a lawsuit brought by the city of Columbus in relation to Precourt’s original plan of moving the team.
PSV says that construction on the stadium will begin in 2019 and the stadium should be open and playable for soccer by the spring of 2021.
Breaking down the deal:
- $550,000 in annual rent payments paid to the City by PSV, on top of capital reserve fund contributions made by PSV
- More than $6.7 million of support for youth soccer programs, including clinics, camps, scholarships, equipment and gear donations, as well as the repair and construction of soccer fields and futsal courts
- Nearly $4 million in direct contributions to Foundation Communities to build affordable housing at McKalla Place or another mutually agreed upon location
- $2.43 million in charitable contributions and an additional 2,500 volunteer hours to Austin charitable organizations
- $3.64 million in direct contribution to Austin’s Cap Metro over 15 years
- Private funding of site preparation and off-site infrastructure costs, estimated at $3million
- Free open park, communal spaces and performance areas in a park-deficient neighborhood
- Rent-free use of the facility by the City and affiliated public sector entities for civic-oriented events
- Off-site traffic control, emergency responders and litter pickup on game and event nights paid by PSV
- Opportunities for local, on-site food and beverage sales
- City retains ownership of the land and stadium and has no responsibility for cost overruns