San Antonio's five year effort to attract a second major league sports franchise crashed and burned late Wednesday, as the Austin City Council voted 7-4 to allow Columbus Ohio businessman Anthony Precourt to move his Columbus Crew Major League Soccer team to Austin, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
County Judge Nelson Wolff, who has been leading the city's effort to attract an MLS expansion franchise, says having an MLS team 70 miles away will scuttle any chance of another MLS franchise being located in San Antonio.
Wolff also questioned the financial viability of the deal Austin has entered into.
"I think the owner of the franchise has to pay $200 million to build the stadium, and then will have to pay to lease the land they are getting from the City of Austin.
Wolff had been in negotiations for years with MLS officials about bringing an expansion team to Toyota Field, an existing county owned facility near Morgan's Wonderland on the north side which is already the home of a minor league pro soccer team.
Wolff has expressed disappointment that San Antonio and Bexar County, before spending time and effort lobbying for an MLS expansion franchise, were not told about the 'secret deal' that Precourt had with the league to move his franchise to Austin.
But Wolff says it is time for the city to change course anyway.
He says San Antonio should explore a franchise in Liga MX, the Mexican Football Federation, which is considered to be far stronger than MLS, and the strongest and most respected soccer league in the Western Hemisphee.
"It doesn't make sense for all of the other leagues around the world to play each other, and we have a 'minor league MLS' here, Wolff said.
Wolff says 'the best players in the world' are in Latin America. He points out that Liga MX matches traditionally sell out the Alamodome, and with San Antonio's strong ties with Mexico, an expansion franchise in the Mexican League would be strong for the city and for Liga MX as it works to continue to popularize soccer north of the border.
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