AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earlier this year, Austin became home to its first professional sports franchise when Austin FC kicked off its inaugural Major League Soccer season. But now, a report from ESPN says that a different kind of pro football team could call Central Texas home.
According to a tweet from Seth Wickersham, a writer at ESPN.com, the NFL’s Buffalo Bills are considering a move to Austin as a leverage play to get public funding for a new, $1.5 billion stadium. The Buffalo News reports team owners are asking taxpayers to pay for 100% of the new stadium.
Buffalo’s current lease at Highmark Stadium ends in 2023.
“An ownership source tells me that Austin is a possible destination – or threat – as one of the ‘other cities elsewhere that desire an NFL franchise and would pay handsomely for it,'” Wickersham’s tweet reads.
How legitimate is that threat from the Buffalo Bills? Questionable at best. NFL teams looking for new stadiums have often used a move to another city as a threat to leverage negotiations for new stadiums.
Before moving to Las Vegas, the Oakland Raiders tossed around the possibility of moving to San Antonio. Currently, the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball have floated a move to Las Vegas during their stadium negotiations with the city.
It’s doubtful the Dallas Cowboys or Houston Texans would welcome a third franchise in the state, though. Dallas dominates the ratings all over, and views the San Antonio market as a second home of sorts.
Before MLS came to Austin, the city had the unique distinction of being the largest city without a pro sports team. But even with Austin FC, Austin doesn’t have a franchise from one of the four major professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) in the U.S.
KXAN reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, City of Austin and Travis County leaders for a statement.
Gov. Abbott retweeted KXAN’s story Sunday night with an “👀” emoji.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler wrote in a tweet Sunday — “I don’t comment on such rumors, but it’s fun to think about what the @BuffaloBills new name might be — Austin Amps? Austin Beat? What do you think?”