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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Soccer referendum questions headed to agenda
Friday, February 15, 2019 by Jo Clifton
City staffers are preparing two agenda items for next Thursday’s City Council meeting related to Precourt Sports Ventures’ planned Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place. One of those items gives Council the option to adopt an ordinance requiring voter approval of any agreement allowing a professional sports team to use city-owned land without paying property taxes. That was the gist of the petition signed by more than 26,000 voters and backed by Precourt’s opponents, including the political action committee Fair Play Austin and the other group pushing for the election, Friends of McKalla Place. The second item on the addendum gives Council the choice of calling an election so voters can weigh in on whether the ordinance should be adopted. However, the city and Precourt have already signed the lease agreement for McKalla Place. The real argument may revolve around whether the city should schedule the election for May, as the proponents want, or November. The city’s legal department has said that if an election is held on any referendum it should be in November, in accordance with state law. Precourt’s attorney, Richard Suttle, told the Austin Monitor, “The community is solidly behind Austin FC (the team). Our city has enthusiastically embraced Austin FC and its proposed stadium. There is evidence that some of the signatures on the petitions were secured under false pretenses by the folks paid to gather the signatures. While it doesn’t appear the proposed ordinance would affect Austin FC if that passes, it could affect other organizations and events that partner with the city. Our city has a history of rejecting corporate-initiated ordinances.”
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