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Major League Soccer and Precourt Sports sign lease for stadium site in North Austin

Thursday, December 20, 2018 by Jimmy Maas

Precourt Sports Ventures signed a lease with the city of Austin today for 24 acres in North Austin to build a Major League Soccer stadium.

“Bringing major league sports to Austin will help bring all parts of our diverse city together, so today’s lease signing is very exciting for our community,” Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement. “The partnership between the team, the league and the city is a great deal for Austin. I can’t wait for us to celebrate our first MLS championship.”

Plans for the McKalla Place site near the Domain include an open-air grass stadium that will seat around 20,000 spectators for soccer and other events. It will cost an estimated $220 million and take about two years to build. Financing and building costs will be covered entirely by Precourt Sports Ventures and Anthony Precourt.

Major League Soccer plans to bring a team called Austin FC to the city. According to PSV, there’s some debate among MLS officials about whether the team will start in 2020 or ’21. MLS teams are officially owned by the league, but each team is controlled by an investor-operator, like PSV. Investor-operators own a share of the league and get a share of league revenue, but can develop specific revenue streams and sponsorships for their individual teams.

“Austin is a thriving, dynamic and multicultural city, and we are very excited that the city and PSV have finalized their lease which will allow for the construction of a soccer stadium and for the launch of an MLS club in the capital of Texas,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “The tremendous support from Austin’s passionate soccer fans, corporate community and local government is remarkable.”

“This agreement solidifies our partnership to bring Major League Soccer to Austin,” Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo said in a statement. “Along with a professional sports franchise, PSV will also bring youth soccer programs, discounted and free tickets, and numerous other community benefits that will enrich our city for years to come.”

Precourt Sports announced in October 2017 that it planned to move the Columbus Crew to Austin and begin play here in the 2019 season. After much back-and-forth on stadium location and details, the Austin City Council approved an outline of terms in August and city staff began to finalize a lease.

Meanwhile in Ohio, Crew supporters spurred a lawsuit from both the city of Columbus and Ohio’s attorney general to keep the team there. They argued that under Ohio’s Modell Law – passed after Art Modell moved the NFL’s Cleveland Browns to Baltimore – MLS had to try to find a local buyer before leaving the state. In a coincidental twist, it was the current Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam, who actually saved the Crew, buying the team’s stake in the league and keeping it in Columbus for now.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Rendering courtesy of Gensler/Precourt Sports Ventures.

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