AUSTIN, Texas — Austin FC got one step closer to its 2021 launch — and integrating into the greater Austin community — Wednesday, announcing St. David’s HealthCare as its first founding corporate partner.
St. David’s is one of the largest health care providers in Texas with a network that includes seven Central Texas hospitals. It is also the third-largest private employer in the Austin area with more than 10,000 employees.
As Austin FC’s first founding partner, St. David’s will have a dual role as the team’s official health care partner, providing medical services to players and to fans needing in-stadium first aid on game days, and the team’s training partner.
St. David’s will be the sponsor on the team’s training jerseys and the future training facility will be named the St. David’s Performance Center.
Austin FC president Andy Loughnane said an announcement on the training facility’s location and its completion date should be released “within the coming weeks or months.”
“St. David’s HealthCare sets the bar for health and wellness in this market,” Austin FC CEO Anthony Precourt said during Wednesday’s announcement event at the team’s north Austin offices. “They serve as a shining example for Austin FC as to how to be a good corporate citizen and give back to this community.”
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) May 22, 2019
Precourt said in order to help St. David’s president and CEO David Huffstutler and Vice President of Communication and Community Affairs Denise Bradley understand what MLS offers cities, he took them to a Portland Timbers match in August against Seattle Sounders FC in Providence Park, a stadium named for the Timbers’ corporate healthcare partner.
Huffstutler, in his remarks at Wednesday’s event, reflected the enthusiasm many Austinites feel about MLS coming to Central Texas.
“Like all of you,” he said, “we followed closely the campaign to bring Major League Soccer to Austin over the past year or so. And we were so pleased when the Austin City Council voted last summer to approve McKalla Place, the site for the team stadium and soccer park. It’s been exciting to watch the momentum that grassroots support for Major League Soccer has generated.”
Austin FC announces St. David’s HealthCare as its first founding corporate partner. (Lindsay Ketchum, ECPR)
Huffstutler also talked about the trip to Portland that Precourt mentioned, saying it helped convince St. David’s to be Austin FC’s first corporate partner.
In sponsoring 10 community soccer camps and clinics per year, St. David’s is looking to provide more than just training and health care for the MLS and academy players. Both St. David’s and Austin FC are looking for ways to make the partnership more real and tangible for community members.
Loughnane said there’s a vision of St. David’s-affiliated yoga instructors leading sessions for community members at the stadium, St. David’s programming within Austin schools and other efforts to show the partnership goes beyond “the brick and mortar of St. David’s Performance Center” to investments community members can experience beyond match days.
While both Loughnane and Precourt note the significance of bringing on an official healthcare partner to build the team’s infrastructure, they also said they’re working toward securing two other high-profile sponsors — for the jersey and for the future stadium. According to Loughnane, Austin FC will aim to announce secured sponsor deals for those two foundational pieces no later than the fall of 2020.
“It’s going to be a steady, rigorous drive toward being ready,” Loughnane said. “Of course, we cannot do this alone. We have to do this with strong partners like St. David’s HealthCare.”