Editor’s Note: A TxDOT spokesperson told KXAN the City of Austin and private contractors are responsible for the road projects that Austin FC identified as a little behind schedule. Austin FC clarified its quote about the projects to accurately reflect this.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC will likely kick off its inaugural Major League Soccer season in April and play its first home game in early June, according to the team’s president.
Andy Loughnane joined KXAN News Today live Wednesday morning. He spoke to us about the team’s plan to broadcast its games on the CW Austin and KXAN. He also continued his interview with us after the show and revealed what’s next for Austin FC as the team heads toward its first season.
“If the Major League Soccer schedule begins in early April, we’ll likely begin on the road for a couple of matches, and then ultimately we’ll return to Q2 Stadium for our inaugural match,” Loughnane said.
The team has gone from just an owner to approximately 95 employees in two years and will have about 110 employees by the time of the first game.
Q2 Stadium nearing completion
“Q2 Stadium is approximately 90% complete here in early February,” Loughnane said. He anticipates the stadium will finish completion over the next two months.
“The stadium schedule is interesting. The stadium itself — the 24-acre property — should be complete in late March, early April — and that’s on time.”
Coaches and players will be based out of the team’s $45 million training facility, the St. David’s Performance Center, which is scheduled to open in mid-March.
In addition to building out interior spaces at Q2 Stadium, including the team’s merchandise store, the team still needs to add signage to the stadium, which Loughnane said is slightly behind schedule. Austin FC announced late last month that digital banking company Q2 bought naming rights for the $260 million stadium which will seat 20,500 fans.
How many of those fans will be able to watch the team on its first game in its new home remains a question mark due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“So as we think about our first event being in early June, probably at the earliest, there’s still some time and distance and variables that need to be understood before we’re able to make a decision,” Loughnane added.
Nearby road projects a little behind schedule
One thing that could impact the gameday experience out of Austin FC’s control is the ongoing traffic projects around the stadium. Austin FC said there are a few road projects that are running a little behind the team’s schedule.
“There’s a traffic signal on Burnet that needs to be installed. There’s a traffic signal off of Braker that needs to be installed,” Loughnane said.
He added that there is also a road, “an important connection,” on private land adjacent to the stadium.
“Those are private projects that required City of Austin and TxDOT approval which has been obtained and they’re on their own schedule.”
Food service deals to be ‘Austin-centric’
Austin is known for its food nearly as much as its music. In fact, Austin FC featured tacos and food trucks on the “neck tape” of its new “Legends” jersey. The team plans to announce food service vendors in the coming weeks, and they say Austinites will know the names.
“We recognize that we need to have an Austin-centric flavor profile, and we’re going to feature brands that are based here in Austin that people have known and loved,” Loughnane said. “That’s a significant move for most stadiums and it was never even in doubt. We were always going to have an Austin-based profile.”
So it seems likely you’ll be able to get Austin tacos, barbecue and more before settling in to watch the match.