Park land may be out as possible MLS stadium site

UPDATE: Butler Shores will no longer be considered as an option for MLS soccer stadium.


More controversy surrounding the Columbus Crew coming to Austin. Some people are outraged about city park land being listed as potential sites for a major league soccer stadium. This has prompted council member Ann Kitchen to post a resolution aiming to pull those sites from the list including the Butler Shores location. 

Precourt Sports Ventures says they would want the stadium where the ball fields sit, which is why they are getting a lot of push-back. Even though it's considered park land, some say it has limited use, primarily just for baseball and softball practice.

South Austin Baseball is the first little league chartered in Texas, calling Weber Field home since the 1950's. They want to continue that tradition. 

"Weber Field has a big place in the way kids grow up. They always come back and look at, 'Wow, that's where I played little league.' They look over there, their dads look over there and see how much they've grown," says Paul Purcell, South Austin Baseball, president.  
    
Their concerns and others have prompted city staff to re-look at potential sites for a major league soccer stadium. That includes park land such as Butler Shores. Council member Ann Kitchen posted a resolution Wednesday to get those off the list. The resolution cited traffic challenges due to a narrow side street, a negative impact on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and adding to an already busy events schedule which would further disrupt the neighborhood. Council member Kathie Tovo spoke with FOX 7 about the situation. 

"I'm listening and understand that there are some significant challenges, especially with the Butler Shores tract, that we likely won't be able to mitigate. So I'm very interested in asking and continuing to explore other tracts of land," says Tovo.  

In response to the draft resolution, Precourt Sports Ventures issued a statement saying:
"Before any of the sites are removed from consideration, we hope council will allow us the opportunity to demonstrate potential park land improvements and community impact and benefits for Butler Shores or any of the other potential sites, which could lead to the possibility of a public vote."

Last week their attorney, Richard Suttle, confirmed the front-runner was the Toomey Road property, also known as Butler Shores. Precourt Sports Ventures is doing a comprehensive study on that site and others. 

"It involves engineers, architects, land planners, traffic engineers because what we have to show is wherever we think this thing is appropriate, that it meets the criteria of the surrounding neighbors and the businesses," says Richard Suttle, attorney for Precourt. 

Butler fields has limited use even though its considered park land. But, those who use it say it can't be replaced. 

"We need to let the city know that we're the majority and not the minority as far as the voices being heard," says Purcell. 

MLS2ATX says in a city of more than 1 million people, it's unfair that a few hundred people may ruin this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring major league sports to Austin. They ask that you reach out to city council. Consideration on the resolution will be at the February 15th council meeting. 

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