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Soccer ball

Council to hear stadium site request, as Austin FC announces first partner

Friday, May 24, 2019 by Chad Swiatecki

City Council is set to consider at its June 4 meeting the next step in the approval process for the 22,000-seat soccer stadium planned for city-owned property in North Austin.

At its May 14 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended City Council approve a planned development area designation to the 24-acre McKalla Place property, which would allow multifamily residential, cocktail lounge, outdoor entertainment, transportation terminal and club or lounge uses by right.

That recommendation was approved with an amendment – made after public input from neighbors expressing concerns over the traffic impact on game days and from other large events – that requires applicant Precourt Sports Ventures to complete a traffic impact analysis as part of its site plan approval process. As part of PSV’s lease deal with the city, the traffic study could have been completed later than normal in the planning and approval process.

Management for the eventual Major League Soccer team that will use the stadium has already filed a site plan for the facility, which will be 130 feet in height. Richard Suttle, an attorney working for PSV, told commissioners that city staff and other team representatives are engaged in talks on the site plan but it is unclear how much progress will be made before the June Council meeting.

Multiple commissioners including Ann Teich asked for a 30-day postponement of the vote so that neighbors and team representatives could meet to discuss concerns over traffic, environmental and stormwater impacts.

Suttle said the team will agree to ongoing community meetings, but that a postponement would have put the planned September groundbreaking in jeopardy. With the Austin FC team expected to begin play in the stadium in March 2021, Suttle said delays would run against the city’s agreement in the lease deal to expedite the approval process.

“The reason there’s a deadline, and the reason we can’t agree to a postponement, is we need the zoning before the site plan can be approved and the site plan has to be approved before we start construction,” he said. “We’re trying to meet a March of 2021 MLS kickoff, and so that’s why it’s important we stay on schedule and it’s also why City Council in their lease negotiations has a paragraph that says the city will agree to expedite all approvals necessary.”

Francoise Luca, president of the Gracywoods Neighborhood Association that covers the area near the stadium site, said residents have grown frustrated with the process of trying to stay involved and informed about what is in store for the site and the traffic and emergency planning steps.

“We have been an interested party in all the developments that have gone in this area, and we have not been notified about the details of this plan,” she said. “PSV has not reached out to us. We were the ones who reached out to the city manager and to our City Council member to ask for more information and an opportunity to see how the development of this massive stadium would address the traffic and environmental issues on this public land.”

This week the team announced St. David’s HealthCare as its first major sponsorship partner. Financial terms and the length of the deal were not disclosed, but the health care provider’s name and logo will appear on the team’s practice facility and practice uniforms. The location and other details of the St. David’s Performance Center have not been announced yet.

Team officials have said they expect to announce the jersey sponsor and stadium naming rights partner by next fall.

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