Austin Finalizes Deal for MLS Soccer Stadium

The City of Austin and Precourt Sports Ventures, the owners of the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, have signed a deal to build a 20,000 seat soccer stadium in McKalla Place, a fast growing commercial area in north Austin, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The deal confirms plans to move the Crew to Austin, scuttling what had been San Antonio's best chance at security a long sought second major league sports franchise.

Precourt Sports' Richard Suttle says now the negotiations begin for construction.

"We still have to go through the city's permit process," he said.  "The architect and engineers still have to go through the finishing touches on thier designs."

The plans for the stadium have been in the works for several months, since Austin City Council signed a memorandum of understanding with Precourt in August.  

But the projected beginning of construction on the new stadium, which is expected next spring, is the final nail in the coffin of what San Antonio officials had thought was a clear path to an MLS franchise that would play in an expanded Toyota Field.

City and Bexar County officials had felt that San Antonio, with its strong Latin American roots and booming population, was a shoo-in for an MLS expansion team.  Spurs Sports and Entertainment had an application in place, which has since been withdrawn, to own the San Antonio MLS franchise, and the City and County purchased Toyota Field from Morgan's Wonderland developer Gordon Hartman and even had a plan in place to expand the facility to meet MLS specifications.

But last year, came word of a 'secret agreement' with the MLS which San Antonio didn't know about that allowed the Columbus franchise to move to Austin.  Bexar County even asked for a legal opinion from the district attorney on whether the agreement amounted to an actionable violation on the part of MLS, but was informed that legal action was not viable.

There was still some hope when Austin appeared to have balked at Precourt's proposals for a stadium.

But now that the final deal has been done, there is no way San Antonio can ever be considered for the MLS, because of its proximity to the Austin franchise, which could start play in 2020.

Bexar County Judge has since expressed an interest in exploring a San Antonio franchise in Liga MX, the Mexican major league soccer association.

IMAGE: GETTY

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