Neighborhood group files petition for ballot initiative opposing Major League Soccer stadium deal

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A group called Friends of McKalla Place has filed a petition to the Austin city clerk asking for a public vote on any sale of city-owned land for sports arenas or concert facilities.

The group says it received 29,000 signatures on the petition opposing the city’s lease agreement with Precourt Sports Ventures for a Major League Soccer stadium and calling for the item to be on the May ballot.

Those 29,000 signatures would be more than the 20,000 necessary to trigger an initiative or referendum. The city confirmed the petition was turned in, and a spokesperson said the city clerk’s office had begun the process of verifying the signatures.

According to Friends of McKalla Place, the petition does not specifically preclude the MLS from coming to Austin or PSV to build a stadium in the city. However, the group called the current lease agreement, which was executed on Dec. 19, a “property tax giveaway” and a “poor policy decision.”

The media release identifies Friends of McKalla Place as an “informal, grassroots organization” which includes “neighborhood leaders, civic and business leaders, and Austin residents that oppose one of the largest incentive deals in Austin’s history being approved without a public vote.”

No individuals are named as members of the group in the release save for one: Craig Nazor, a Gracywoods resident.

“This terrible stadium deal totally disregards economic research regarding the lack of long-term economic stimulation of sports stadiums and the different jurisdictions that rely on the property tax dollars that should be generated from McKalla Place,” Nazor said in to the release.

According to a lease agreement executed on Dec. 19, PSV has agreed to fund a $225 million stadium on a 24-acre parcel of city-owned land at 10414 McKalla Place in North Austin. The city will maintain ownership of both the land and the stadium, meaning PSV would not pay property taxes on the facility, which is scheduled to open in 2021.

The stadium is set to be the future of Austin FC, a new MLS franchise that is set to join the league in the near future. The league is still deciding whether the team will join the MLS in the 2020 or 2021 season, according to PSV.

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Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. He graduated in 2011 from Boston University and worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in January of 2018.
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