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Soccer stadium scheme takes two steps forward …

Thursday, January 10, 2019 by Chad Swiatecki

In what is basically a formality at this point, Jan. 15 has been set as the date to announce that Austin will be the site of the newest Major League Soccer franchise. The announcement, which will take place at the Rustic Tap pub on West Sixth Street, makes it official that the Austin FC professional soccer team will occupy a 20,000-seat stadium slated to open in 2021 on the city’s McKalla Place parcel in North Austin. Last month the city finalized a 20-year lease agreement for the property with Precourt Sports Ventures, the group that operates the Columbus Crew MLS team and had initially planned on relocating that team to Austin. Instead, it appears an Ohio group will purchase the Crew, which caused MLS to create a new team in Austin. The team has moved ahead with administrative needs including hiring executives and securing office space in North Austin. There are still procedural steps in planning and other city departments ahead for the stadium, along with potentially lingering legal and political issues, such as a recently completed petition drive seeking a May ballot measure on the city’s approval of the lease deal. In addition, last year Travis County Commissioners Court asked its legal team to investigate options for challenging the tax-exempt status on the McKalla Place property that is expected to contain a stadium worth more than $200 million.

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