AUSTIN, Texas - It wasn't your typical groundbreaking fanfare: usually there are shovels and finger-foods involved in these events...that stuff was present, sure, but at Austin FC's Major League Soccer stadium groundbreaking on Monday morning, there was also rock concert-style pyrotechnics...and Mr. Matthew McConaughey, one of Austin FC's new owners.
What's coming? A 20,500-seat state-of-the-art open air, natural grass soccer park.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler says the team will help bring a "segregated" Austin together.
"We don't have the events in this community, enough events in this community that bring everybody in our community together in one place with one mind and one focus and one spirit. That's what this represents," Adler said.
The question some in the community are having right now - is it safe to build on McKalla Place? The site, located next to The Domain at Braker and Burnet does have a history. We've known that for a while but the concern has been brought up again recently.
A little background: from 1956 to 1985, Reichold Chemical was at McKalla Place. An explosion shut the plant down in '85. The City of Austin bought the property and during construction of a north service center there in 2003, another explosion injured several workers.
The Texas Commision on Environmental Quality gave the site a "clean bill of health" so to speak
But over the last few weeks, Austin attorney Bill Aleshire has been trying to get the Worker's Defense Project involved to make sure workers are protected on the site. "The State has done an environmental audit and deemed this appropriate for affordable housing. So has the city. We have a program where we're building a soccer park and possible affordable housing on-site, so we feel very comfortable about the health of this site," said Austin FC CEO Anthony Precourt.
As for those who are still uncomfortable with the soccer stadium being built on city-owned land and some details of the deal with the city... "We're building a 100% privately-financed stadium for the City of Austin on city-owned land. There's always going to be naysayers but I think this is for the greater good," Precourt said.
Back to McConaughey, the actor and FC investor pointed out Austin is a music city.
What's the foundation of any good song? The bass-line, according to McConaughey. "The bass-line, the trunk of our tree is you, the City of Austin. What do we want? We want a team, we want a stadium, we want an experience that grows the legend of Austin, Texas and all of us...the people that call this place home," McConaughey said.