There is still a long way to go before Austin FC’s stadium welcomes fans for the city’s first Major League Soccer game, but construction is set to begin at the North Austin site soon, and the team will break ground on the project Sept. 9.
The team received what Armbrust and Brown attorney Richard Suttle, who is working for Austin FC, called a “Phase 1” permit from the city of Austin on Aug. 12. Suttle said the permit will allow the team to start work like grading and erosion control to prepare the site. This is not the final site plan the team will need to be approved by the city, but it will allow the construction process to begin.
Jack Archer is vice president of the Central Texas division for Austin Commercial, the company managing construction on the project. Archer called the project’s timeline—which calls for the first home game in the spring of 2021—“a very aggressive schedule,” but said the team working on the project is up for the challenge and excited to begin work.
Jonathan Emmett, design director and sports facilities leader for architecture firm Gensler, said aggressive timelines are a part of the “state of the industry” for stadium construction in the MLS. In addition to leading this project, Emmett also was involved in the design for the stadium for Los Angeles club LAFC, which opened in April 2018 after the team began its inaugural season with six straight games on the road.
Dave Greeley, president of Two Oak Ventures, Austin FC’s ownership group and parent company, said the club is focused on the business at hand and unconcerned about the tight timeline.
“Short of acts of God, things we don't control, we foresee no issues,” Greeley said.
In addition to announcing the groundbreaking date, Austin FC released new plan details and renderings on Aug. 21 during a press conference at its team headquarters in North Austin.
On game days, there will be 835 parking spots around the stadium as well 8 acres dedicated to open space on the 24-acre site, which on game nights can be used for concerts or fan activities. On non-game days, the site will be able to host community events like music festivals, farmers markets and art shows, and some of the lawn area used for event parking can be put to a different use.
Even with a significant amount of work to be done and progress that needs to be made, Emmett said the groundbreaking is a crucial moment in the process.
“This really is truly a turning point where it turns from being drawings and ink on paper to a reality,” he said.
Editor's note: This post was updated to reflect the rescheduled groundbreaking date.