AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is the largest city in the country without a major league sports franchise, but Major League Soccer (MLS) wants to potentially change that but before they do, they want to know what you think about bringing a professional sports team to Austin.
The organization hired Barrett Sports Group, LLC, a management consulting firm, to evaluate the potential demand and support for a team in Central Texas. The survey asks about potential team and stadium projects to help MLS understand local opinions and potential interest in and MLS team in Austin. In Texas, the two MLS teams are located in Houston and Dallas.
For young soccer stars like Cole Kidwell, right now, it’s only a dream.
“Yeah, I have a dream of playing professional soccer, ” the 6-year-old said. “I have fun and I practice a lot, so I have fun at soccer.” He practices at Avila Creative Soccer in Round Rock and says he might go international. “I think I might play for Barcelona or Chelsea.”
But maybe he won’t have to, if a team is born in Austin.
- Click here to participate in the survey
It’s also a dream for soccer player and fan, Mitchell Atherton, who two years ago created the Facebook page: Bring Major League Soccer to Austin.
“It blew up, we got 3,000 members in four days,” Atherton said. “There’s a demographic of people that are young and that look for entertainment, not just soccer fans. That’s really what Austin has to offer I think.”
The problems in the past have been centered around location. The mayors office says while they think having an MLS team in Austin would be great, they have no plans to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to build a stadium. Right now, they are focused on feedback.
“This city has changed a lot and it’s time really I think, for Austin to get what everyone else has,” Atherton said.
A study released last year shows Austin could support a number of professional sports. According to the American City Business Journals, there is enough money to back an NFL, NBA, NHL or MLS team. The study found Austin has a total personal income of $84 billion, and $58 billion of that is available as potential disposable income to go toward a pro sports team. But the study did not consider the local issues related to bringing a pro sports team to Austin. One of the biggest challenges has been finding a location for a stadium.
University of Texas officials are already trying to decide where to put a new basketball arena since the Frank Erwin Center is slated to eventually be torn down to make way for new additions to the Dell Medical School.
The city of Austin has already expressed interest in bringing a MLS team to town. The Austin Aztex recently moved up to the pro division of the United Soccer League with an eye on being part of an expansion plan to the MLS. Last year, the Austin City Council directed the city manager to look at whether it’s feasible to bring an MLS franchise here. The city manager was also asked to look at potential sites for a soccer stadium.
MLS officials prefer sites downtown and say they plan to expand to 24 teams by 2020. San Antonio is also making a push for an expansion team, while Miami has soccer legend David Beckham leading their expansion efforts. Minneapolis was awarded the league’s 23rd franchise last month.