Questions swirl over Major League Soccer’s future in Austin

Austin

There are questions about whether a Major League Soccer team, the Columbus Crew, could still come to Austin. 

Earlier this week, an Ohio judge ordered a 90-day pause in a lawsuit that hopes to prevent the Columbus Crew from moving. 

The city accuses the team of being too vague in giving a 6-month notice, required under state law for Ohio teams that use publicly supported facilities. The judge plans to meet with both sides to determine the team’s value and how to structure a potential sale. 

Meanwhile, Austin held its last of three public meetings to get community feedback on the proposed stadium site at McKalla Place, near the Domain, on Thursday. 

Sports attorney Peter Reid was there and said the ongoing lawsuit could impact the MLS team’s chance of moving to Austin. 

“There’s a lot of people here in Austin that really want a soccer team here and it seems like the city of Austin are wanting to make it happen too, but it’s almost out of their hands because there are movements happening in Columbus to save the team there,” Reid said. 

“I find it hard to think that they’re going to be able to announce a move to Austin while that process is ongoing ’cause that would really show the judge that they’re not negotiating in good faith.”

But Richard Suttle, attorney for Precourt Sports Ventures and Major League Soccer, says talks are moving forward.  “I can’t comment on litigation, but I can tell you it hasn’t caused us to hit the pause button on bringing MLS to Austin,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting was a mix of support and concern, some talking about how great an MLS team would be for an upcoming generation of young soccer fans, with comments like, “I think it would be a big benefit for the city of Austin.” 

Others, like Angelica Faz, said the city needs to be thinking about the property for affordable housing. 

“I like soccer just like everyone else, but I value people more than the soccer game,” Faz said. 

City staff are expected to return to council with community input and a detailed analysis of McKalla Place by June 1.

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