The investor-operator team pushing Austin FC toward its opening 2021 Major League Soccer season just got a little bigger — and, as one of the investors might say, a little more alright, alright, alright.
A group of four prominent Austinites was announced Friday as new partners in the soccer venture. The group is led by investment firm head Eduardo “Eddie” Margain and includes actor and producer Matthew McConaughey, technology executive Marius Haas and oil and gas entrepreneur Bryan Sheffield.
“Austin FC is more than a quality investment FOR Austin, it’s a quality investment IN Austin,” McConaughey said in a statement released by the club. “The most diverse and borderless game in the world is now coming to one of the most multicultural, creative and diverse cities in the world. Austin FC is a healthy investment in our city’s culture and future.”
Austin FC CEO Anthony Precourt introduced the new investors during an invitation-only event at downtown Austin music venue 3TEN ACL LIVE.
The group, though representing a diverse cross-section of industries, all have Austin addresses in common, and Precourt lauded them for their commitment to soccer as well as to the city.
“It is my privilege to welcome my new partners to Austin FC,” Precourt said in a statement. “This group knows and loves the city of Austin and the beautiful game. I can’t think of anyone better to help us realize our ambitions as a soccer club for this entire community.”
While Precourt will maintain majority ownership in the club, the four new investors will be involved in the ramp-up to 2021. In particular, McConaughey will adopt a new role as the team’s Minister of Culture, which he defined as “align[ing] values and bridg[ing] relationships with other Austin entities, as well as working on branding and messaging concepts.
He characterized his involvement in the team as being driven by thoughts about his legacy. “For me, this is something that I want to outlive me. It’s something that I want to outlive my kids. It’s something that this city is hopefully going to really enjoy. And it’s something that the rest of the world is having a look at, to really admire and respect and look up to the way we do it. That’s why I’m here.”
McConaughey helped bring Austin FC into larger focus in May, attending an LAFC home match with LAFC minority owner Will Ferrell, and perhaps hinting at a role like Ferrell has in growing the brand through his celebrity. McConaughey came to the match in Austin FC gear, which set portions of social media even beyond Soccer Twitter abuzz.
— LAFC (@LAFC) May 25, 2019
All four investors and Precourt responded to a question relayed via Twitter about who they’d like to see become an Austin FC rival, and revealed aspects of themselves with their answers.
Margain, an Austin investment firm head who leads this group of four partners and will become the alternate governor for Austin’s seat on the MLS Board of Governors, grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, and looked to a Concacaf Champions League rivalry with Tigres.
Sheffield, founder and executive chairman of Parsley Energy, talked about his roots in Midland, Texas and wanted to take on the FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo legs of a “Texas triangle.”
Haas, president and chief commercial officer at Dell, looked to Austin and Seattle’s shared status as high-tech centers and called out the Sounders. Of the four, Haas has arguably had the most effect on soccer; as part of his remarks Friday, Haas talked about his role in bringing Dell and GoalControl together on bringing goal-line technology to the sport.
Precourt picked another incoming MLS franchise, Nashville SC, for the music connection, while McConaughey nodded to his friendship with Ferrell and their ongoing Texas-USC rivalry, and said they should extend that to their respective MLS teams.
While the team has aspirations to be, as McConaughey puts it, “the coolest club not just in MLS, but in the world,” the investors are decidedly focused on making this Austin’s team.
McConaughey joked that the team could be made even more Austin by bringing a walk-on from Austin to be part of the team, hinting that his son Levi (in attendance along with the rest of his family) might be able to fulfill that role. “Only if he’s good enough, Coach,” he smiled, looking toward Coach Josh Wolff, who was back in Austin from ongoing U.S. national team coaching duties to be part of Friday’s event.
For Precourt, Friday’s announcement is another step in deepening the team’s Austin roots; the club launched a new social media hashtag, #austinfctogether, to underscore that messaging.
“We’re all collaborative,” Precourt said of his new partners, “and we’re super passionate about what this could do for Austin.”