AUSTIN, Texas - They've raised the roof at McKalla Place and the new home for the MLS Austin FC is a recognizable addition to the north Austin skyline.
For those who work in the areas, like Barbara King, the speed of what’s been accomplished is amazing. “It really has and how quickly it seems like it has come together," she said.
King manages several properties next to the stadium along Burnet. With the stadium about 60% complete, King is now curious about what benefits the complex will bring.
"I think that it can, we pretty much cater to smaller businesses, I think the types of businesses that are going to be interested in a soccer field, yeah, I think it will,” said King.
The stadium currently priced at $260 million is set to be ready for matches in Spring 2021. The team that the ownership is currently watching is the 400-plus person crew operating all the heavy equipment.
"We have not been immune to certain issues that we've had to resolve,” said team president Andy Lochnane, who said that the COVID-19 outbreak required some supply and safety adjustments. "We've had some materials that were going to be sourced from certain countries and we've gone ahead and re-routed, and or, gone and found new resources to bring on some of those materials. We've had to adapt to the schedules for COVID-19 related health measures."
One thing that didn't have to change is when the team will play. Earlier this year a decision was made to delay the season by a year for MLS expansion teams in Charlotte, St. Louis, and Sacramento. For the Austin FC the question is how many fans, if any, will be allowed inside the new stadium.
"It’s early yet, and in the case of a couple of clubs, there will be a select number of fans to start. But as time evolves we will learn more,” said Lochnane.
The Round Rock Express has already shown it is possible to have fans in the stands during the pandemic, with no clusters of COVID-19 linked to the ballpark, according to Williamson County health officials. The Express plan could find its way to McKalla Place.
"For us we are focused on observation, we are focused on safety, we are focused on our own construction projects,” said Lochnane.
That includes planning to have fans in all 20,500 seats. But also being prepared to make more adjustments.
The official MLS Schedule is to be released around Christmas or New Years. The club anticipates the first home match will be held in April or May.