There's strong support behind bringing a major league team to Austin. It was very apparent at an MLS2ATX event tonight. That's where soccer fans got an update on the possibility of the Columbus Crew relocating here. There is both excitement and concerns.
Precourt Sports Ventures says making a decision is an urgent matter but they are still unsure of an end date. In the meantime, they are working on having more conversations with the public.
An MLS team in Austin - there's no question that many people would like for that to happen. President of Precourt Sports Ventures, Dave Greely, says there are some must-haves before a deal is done.
"Downtown and MLS, it makes sense. It's the sport for 21st century America. People more and more are embracing their centers. It's kind of the central nervous system of any metropolitan area. So downtown is really important for us. This is not only a stadium solution we're going to need. We're going to build a world-class training facility to house the first team, to house our academy," says Dave Greely, President of Precourt Sports Ventures.
On Wednesday night there was an event with Greely. He faced a lot of questions, some easier to answer than others.
"Are you going to have a pull-out clause when you come here? I want to make sure you're in all the way," asks soccer fan.
"Our challenge in Columbus is simple, we don't have broad-based community support and that's been based on 22 years of history, tradition and legacy. Secondly, we don't have the corporate support we need in Columbus."
Greely says they need that support in Austin and it's a "must be present to win" deal. He went on to say that to get the right site, it will take people attending rallies, making calls, sending emails and spreading the word.
"I have faith in the team in Austin, so long as we have faith in them honestly. I think that's where the major failings have been. I think if you look at the average attendance for the team, where they are right now, the revenue pulled in, the net-worth of the team, you can see they are at the bottom of the league and that's because of a lack of support in the community. I think that's something that Austin will certainly bring."
On Thursday, November 9th, there's going to be a resolution in front of the Austin City Council that would direct city staff to identify city-owned sites in the urban core, including underutilized parkland, that might be appropriate for a soccer stadium. Some fans would like more answers before showing up in support.
"I question their loyalty to Columbus and to Crew and to the history and to the fan base up there."
In regards to how big the stadium would be, Greely says 20,000 seats.