Austin City Council rejects citizen-initiated sports stadium ordinance, likely to go on ballot in November

Precourt Sports Ventures plans to build a $225 million Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place. The stadium will be home to the Austin FC team, which will begin play in spring 2021.

Precourt Sports Ventures plans to build a $225 million Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place. The stadium will be home to the Austin FC team, which will begin play in spring 2021.

Austin City Council refused to adopt a citizen-initiated ordinance on Feb. 21 that would give voters a say when city government partners with a third party to use public land for sports and entertainment uses. Council's decision will likely send the issue to voters in a November special election.

In December, Austin came to an agreement with Major League Soccer investor-operator group Precourt Sports Ventures to build a professional soccer stadium on the city-owned McKalla Place lot in North Austin. Community members upset with the deal circulated a petition to put the stadium deal and all future stadium and entertainment deals for public land up for public vote. The city clerk accepted the petition, which garnered over 26,000 valid signatures, on Feb. 11.

Per city charter, any citizen-initiated ordinance that garners over 20,000 signatures must either be adopted by City Council or put on the ballot for voters to decide.

The proposed ordinance says, ”The City shall not sell, lease, convey, mortgage, or otherwise alienate any City-owned land that will be used as a sports stadium, sports facility, sports arena, and/or entertainment stadium, entertainment facility or entertainment arena,” without a majority vote of Austin voters and three-fourths majority of Austin City Council.

Susan Spataro, a former Travis County auditor who has been a vocal opponent of the McKalla deal and supportive of the petition, said it was a tragedy that the McKalla lot, valued at $30 million, could not be used for affordable housing. She criticized the city for a “total lack of transparency” and said the public should get to vote on something so substantial.

Although the petition was drafted with the McKalla Place deal in mind, Mayor Steve Adler, who spoke against the petition Feb. 21, said it had nothing to do with the professional soccer stadium because the city and Precourt Sports Ventures have already executed a lease agreement.

Rather, Adler said it threatens several community-favorite facilities, such as the Zach Theater, the Waller Creek Amphitheater, Waller Creek Boathouse and the Austin Film Society’s studios, which are all up for lease renewals soon. If approved by voters in November, each of these leases the city has for entertainment uses on public land would need to be approved through an election.

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar criticized the petition for being so “poorly worded” that it fails to impact the controversial soccer stadium but places at risk several other community facilities.

City Clerk Jannette Goodall said if the measure goes to a November election, it would cost the city $500,000.
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

The Atlas 14 rainfall study found Austin to be at a much higher flood risk than previously understood.
Acknowledging expanded risk, Austin moves to prohibit additional density in city’s flood-prone areas

A recent federal flood risk study found Austin's flood risk to be significantly higher than previously understood.

The Dove Springs Recreation Center could be named after current Travis County Constable George Morales III. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dove Springs Recreation Center could be renamed after Constable George Morales

The Dove Springs Recreation Center could be renamed after Constable George Morales, although some residents oppose changing the park's name at all.

The city of Austin authorized the purchase of a Rodeway Inn at 2711 S. I-35 on Nov. 14. The city plans to convert the property into a homeless shelter. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Council green lights $8 million Rodeway Inn plan for homeless shelter transition, vows to address crime in the area

South Austin neighbors raised concerns that criminal activity in the area will put homeless individuals who enter the shelter at risk.

New Brightway insurance office opens in South Austin

Brightway, The Trusted Agency opened a new office in late October.

Marucci Clubhouse baseball facility opens in Southwest Austin

Marucci Clubhouse opened its new Southwest Austin location in October.

Lady Bird Lake at Congress Avenue in Austin. Since late July, parts of the lake have been off limits due to high concentrations of toxic "blue-green" algae. (Courtesy Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)
Toxic algae blooms are becoming more common, scientists say

Months have passed, but the capital city still has signs up warning of ongoing dangerous conditions in Lady Bird Lake.

Community members examine updated zoning maps at land development code town hall in October.
Land development code rewrite heads to City Council for final approval, marking home stretch of nearly 7-year process

Austin's long-awaited land development code rewrite is heading to City Council for final approval.

Crews work on updating a section of I-35 in Central Texas (Courtesy TxDOT)
Central Texas transportation agencies investing millions in I-35 for new lanes, intersection improvements aimed at aiding mobility

About 20 miles of I-35 through Central Texas will see an infusion of $400 million in state and federal funding to add one to two additional lanes in an effort to improve mobility.

Sage Blossom Massage's new Oak Hill location features a salt room. Courtesy Sage Blossom Massage
Sage Blossom Massage now open in Oak Hill

Sage Blossom Massage's new Oak Hill location at 6705 W. Hwy. 290, Austin, opened in early October. Sage …

A photo of the Dripping Springs City Council.
Dripping Springs City Council opts for partial refund to Mark Black in wedding venue fee dispute

Dripping Springs City Council voted Nov. 12 to refund $2,121 of Mark Black's $12,800 request.

Delia Garza speaks to her constituents at a town hall meeting in 2017.
Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza says she will not seek re-election as Travis County attorney rumors heat up

Austin's mayor pro tem will not seek reelection to her Southeast Austin district seat in 2020.

Deece Eckstein at the Nov. 12 Travis County Commissioners Court meeting
Travis County intergovernmental relations officer announces retirement, triggers "aggressive" hiring schedule

Deece Eckstein, Travis County's inaugural intergovernmental relations officer, will retire at the end of the year.

Back to top