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Austin fields eight potential sites for new soccer stadium and practice space

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Syeda Hasan

City Council is weighing eight potential sites to house a professional soccer stadium and practice space after the Ohio-based Columbus Crew soccer team expressed an interest in moving here. But Council members decided to hold off on a final decision for now, postponing a vote until Feb. 15.

Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department issued a memo last week outlining potential locations for a stadium and practice space, and Crew owners have expressed interest in the Butler Shores Metropolitan Park. Earlier this month, they released renderings of a potential stadium on the site near Lady Bird Lake.

The proposal is already facing pushback. Council Member Ann Kitchen, who represents the area, said at last week’s Council work session that she would not support building a stadium on the site.

“You know, it’s the concentrated traffic impacts, the challenging and limited access, lighting and noise right across from where people live and have bought their condos,” she said. “(Added to that) the fact that it’s already an area where we have ACL, we have Trail of Lights.”

Still, Kitchen said, the possibility of bringing a professional soccer team to Austin is exciting.

“With regard to any other parkland, I think we need to have a thorough discussion and a thorough public input process before we go any further,” she said.

The former Home Depot on St. Johns is one of the sites under consideration. Photo by Austin Price for KUT

Other city-owned properties under consideration include the Walnut Creek Sports Complex on Johnny Morris Road and the old Home Depot store on St. Johns Avenue.

Sara Hensley, Austin’s interim assistant city manager, told Council members that building a stadium on public parkland would take time and might even trigger an election.

“Their timeline, of course, if they wanted to bring a team here, would be in 2019,” Hensley said. “Of course, building a stadium, we would not be ready by then, and that is why they would have to work with someone else to have a temporary place for playing.”

Another site up for consideration is the Travis County Exposition Center on Decker Lane. Council Member Pio Renteria said the location is attractive and would elicit less pushback from the public.

“This is an opportunity for them to get a stadium (and) not have to go through the process that’s going to happen,” he said, “because I feel like if they take this to the voters and Butler (Shores is) on there, then it’s not going to pass.”

Renteria thinks putting the Lady Bird Lake location on a ballot could “divide the community.” For now, the city will keep analyzing the merits of each spot. City staff says it plans to bring a more in-depth report on potential sites to Council in February.

This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that some of the sites on the list are being considered for a practice space. 

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Artist’s rendering of a soccer stadium on Butler Shores, courtesy of Precourt Sports Ventures.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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