AUSTIN, Texas - Back in October, Anthony Precourt, owner of Precourt Sports Ventures announced he was considering moving the major league soccer team Columbus Crew from Ohio to Austin, Texas.
There were some fears from folks in our neck of the woods that it was too good to be true. But Precourt's Austin attorney Richard Suttle speaks with confidence.
"This team is coming to this city if we can find the right stadium location," Suttle said.
And that's the big question...where? The Austin City Council recently passed a resolution directing city staff to come up with a list of options for both the stadium and a multi-field practice facility. That list is expected next week. Precourt is hoping the stadium will go downtown. The team will foot the bill for it.
Suttle said a city-owned site that has looked appealing in early analysis is 200 South Lamar: Butler Shores.
"Relative to other sites in the area, it appears to be underutilized in a way that we can take the utilization that's going on now and actually move it a little bit away and make it better," Suttle said.
South Austin Little League plays there. Suttle said the team would make sure the league is taken care of...he says the site is roughly 25 to 26 acres but about 15 of it is buildable.
"If that became the preferred site of course we would comply with all the waterfront overlay setbacks and protections from the lake and the creek and the trail and all that," he said.
The spot is in Council Member Ann Kitchen's district. She's excited about a soccer stadium but she's said it has to be in the right place and she has grave concerns about that spot on Lamar.
"The impact on the trail, it's right by the trail, the noise impact, the traffic impact, where people are going to park and then it's right across from people's homes," Kitchen said.
Council Member Kitchen said she has heard some support from her constituents but she said the majority...not so much.
"There's a lot of concern. As you might imagine that area is impacted so much right now by ACL for example and the traffic, the noise and the impact on that whole park area has been a concern for a while anyway," Kitchen said.
Suttle said there would be some parking on site.
"Then invite people to park in other areas of the city and we can huge shuttles and walking and biking and multi-modal ways of getting to the games," Suttle said.
Kitchen said she wants to have a community conversation.
"We do have provisions for elections or votes when we're using parkland so that would be my first question: is this the kind of thing that would need to go to a vote?" Kitchen said.
Don't think too big. Suttle said the stadium would only seat about 20,000 people. Low, small and non-intrusive.
"When people think of a soccer stadium I don't want them thinking of something as big as the Astrodome or Darryl Royal Stadium, it's a much smaller, more intimate venue," Suttle said.