AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC’s inaugural Major League Soccer season will start the first weekend of April. However, the club’s under-construction Q2 Stadium in north Austin will likely not host a MLS match until June, according to Austin FC President Andy Loughnane.
Loughnane says stadium construction on Q2 Stadium will be completed on time around late March or early April, but there are other circumstances pushing the home opener.
The details around the stadium, like traffic signals, stadium signage and staff training, will require extra time before the new stadium fully turns its lights on.
MLS announced key dates for the 2021 season on Monday with a full 34-game schedule expected to be played for all 27 clubs. The 2020 season was abbreviated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season will start the weekend of April 3, but Austin FC leadership expects to start its season on the road for the first two months. Austin FC will be the 13th team in the Western Conference.
Clubs can open preseason training on Feb. 22, which is six weeks before the MLS is back opening weekend. Players will be required to quarantine and do individual training sessions when they arrive for preseason under the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
MLS says all players, technical staff and essential club staff will be tested for COVID-19 every other day, including the day before each match day, during the regular season. Clubs will also take chartered flights for all road trips until further notice.
The league and the MLS Players Association are still working to finalize the collective bargaining agreement, according to the league press release.
MLS 2021 season key dates
- Feb. 22 | MLS Preseason training begins
- Apr. 3-4 | MLS is Back – Opening Weekend 2021
- Late Aug. | MLS Heineken® Rivalry Week
- Late summer | MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup
- Nov. 7 | MLS Decision Day
- Nov. 19 | Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs begin
- Dec. 11 | 2021 MLS Cup
On Monday, the club announced its naming rights will go to Q2, an Austin-based, global software company for banking and finance. The club says the agreement is a multiyear naming rights partnership for the $260 million stadium.
Loughnane said Austin FC will be “aggressive” in pursuit of other sporting events for Q2 Stadium — beside Austin FC matches.