Questions linger from Austin City Council over proposed terms for MLS stadium

Renderings for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place in Austin.

Renderings for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place in Austin.

Austin City Council members raised questions Wednesday afternoon over transportation, the termination clause and actual costs to the city in their ongoing discussion whether to allow a Major League Soccer stadium to be constructed on city-owned land.

Last Friday, staffers released a term sheet for a potential deal with Precourt Sports Ventures, or PSV, to relocate the Columbus Crew team and build a $200 million stadium in North Austin at 10414 McKalla Place.

Although some council members expressed support for the idea of MLS in Austin, most said the term sheet leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

“I’m not sure I’m ready to say I want to move to negotiations, but if we do then I think that we need to very seriously consider just to negotiate and not negotiate and execute,” District 10 Council Member Alison Alter said. “There’s too many unknowns here.”

Items listed on the term sheet include:

  • The city would own the stadium and the land.

  • PSV would start paying rent in Year 6 at $550,000 per year, or $8.25 million for the initial 20-year lease.

  • PSV would have to enter into a non-relocation clause.

  • The city could host civic-oriented events and keep all revenue generated.

  • PSV would provide up to 1 acre for 130 affordable housing units.

Chief concerns among council members included how to hold PSV accountable to the community benefits; access in and out of the site; curtail the actual costs to the city, such as traffic management; a clear picture of what would happen if PSV terminated the deal; and how any affordable housing would be built on the site.

“I need to see some drawings and explanation on how Precourt expects to get people to and from the site,” District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool said.

On the termination clause, attorney Frank Jones told the council that part would be worked out in an official agreement and that the term sheet is non-binding.

“A non-relocation deal will have a much more significant impact on the team than you,” he said. “Worst-case scenario is the city gets a new stadium and no team. When you talk about termination provisions needing to be negotiated, it is mainly a mechanical exercise.”

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo said she would like to see the community benefits nailed down, including assurances that the new teams use local vendors, products and materials.

“‘Good-faith efforts’ are pretty general,” she said of the language currently in the term sheet.

Alter said she wants to see penalties included in the term sheet for PSV if it fails to uphold any part of the agreement.

“I do not understand what mechanisms we have to hold them accountable,” she said.

Council is slated to vote Aug. 9 on potentially authorizing negotiating and executing an official deal with PSV based on the terms previously discussed.

Securing support for transit

Days prior to the Aug. 1 meeting, District 2 Council Member Delia Garza, who is also a board member for the regional transit agency Capital Metro, wrote on the council message board that she is generally supportive of a soccer stadium at McKalla Place but is concerned over what she perceives as a “lack of any clear investment in our public transit system.”

“With a proposal that only includes 1,000 parking spaces for events at the space, we will most certainly be depending heavily on Cap Metro to get folks to and from the stadium,” she said.

Her message proposes that PSV provide Capital Metro with $3 million in funding—in addition to the anticipated $8.25 million in rent to the city—that the transit agency could use for either a rail station or enhanced bus service or for any other way that could improve the Capital Metro system.

She also proposes the city allocate $2 million of the rent money to Capital Metro and that PSV add a $1 transportation surcharge to each ticket.

“It is critical to have an investment in public transit to get folks to and from a public place,” she said Wednesday.

Residents voice concern over stadium proposal but others support soccer

Dozens of residents addressed council Wednesday. Many expressed concerns about using McKalla Place for a stadium, which would not generate property taxes because the land would remain public. Others were supportive of bringing professional soccer to Austin for the benefits it could bring to businesses and the community.

Trey Bueche, owner of Bat City Awards & Apparel in downtown Austin, touted the benefits to small businesses.

“It takes entities like this to bring money to stimulate the economy,” he said.

Jorge Chavez said he appreciates the proposed community benefits, including donations to charitable organizations as well as to Foundation Communities to build affordable housing.

“That is a big deal,” he said.

On the opposition side, residents including Marisa Perryman and Francoise Luca, both of whom live near McKalla Place, said they worry about the safety of pedestrians and a potential increase of people driving drunk in their neighborhoods.

“We need to really step back and think how we get 20,000 people in and out of this site safely,” said Luca, who is the president of the Gracywoods Neighborhood Association. “The rail station is only one solution.”

North Austin resident Craig Nazor, a self-proclaimed “plant person,” said he thinks McKalla Place as it exists helps prevent flooding at a nearby creek that the city is already planning about $13 million in flood mitigation efforts.

“Little Walnut Creek is subject to flooding and it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

A city memo dated July 31 from the Watershed Protection Department to City Council provided an update on a potential wetland at McKalla Place. Chris Herrington, acting environmental officer for the department, wrote that the National Wetlands Inventory map showed a “short-lived, isolated holding pond that held water in 1976 but was not present in subsequent of prior historic aerial photographs.”

Council will also hear presentations for other proposed developments at McKalla Place on Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 3 p.m. at City Hall. Those propels are due Friday.

For more information, visit
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.


Photo of three men drinking at a tiki bar
Ramen Tatsu-Ya readies new South Austin concept, plus more area business news

Tiki bar and restaurant Tiki Tatsu-Ya is set to open later this summer.

Minnesota-based Rockler Woodworking and Hardware will open a location in La Frontera in late September. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware coming to Round Rock

Minnesota-based Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is coming to La Frontera in Round Rock in late September.

The proposed Wild Ridge master-planned neighborhood northeast of downtown Dripping Springs would include 960 homes on 40- to 60-foot-wide lots. (Courtesy City of Dripping Springs)
Master-planned neighborhood in Dripping Springs to bring 960 homes, new roads

The proposed development by Meritage Homes would feature amenities such as a disc golf course.

Q&A: Greg Smith, executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition

Greg Smith is the former superintendent of Clear Creek ISD and became executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition in December 2020. 

Photo of the Travis County sign
Travis County proposes tax rate for 2021-22 fiscal year, prepares for budget approval process

Due to increasing property values, the property tax rate is expected to be around $0.017 lower in the coming fiscal year.

Photo of school supples
Parents weigh in: What are your considerations heading into the 2021-22 school year?

Community Impact Newspaper seeks parent feedback as we prepare for our annual education edition.

Photo of the Austin Police Department
City of Austin certifies Save Austin Now's petition to increase police staffing, adding it to fall ballot

The measure would require two police officers for every 1,000 area residents, among other provisions.

TxDOT will stop removing trees as a part of the Oak Hill Parkway project until the injunction hearing Sept. 2. (Courtesy Falcon Sky Photography)
TxDOT temporarily halts removal of trees, but Oak Hill Parkway construction continues

Opponents of the parkway see the latest development as a “window of hope.”

Photo of a doctor with a pregnant woman
Austin health experts warn delta variant could pose higher risk for pregnant women

Maternal medicine doctors across Central Texas have seen increasing numbers of pregnant women coming to the hospital with breathing issues and pregnancy complications as a result of COVID-19.

Wayback Burgers makes cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
6 eateries open or coming to Cedar Park, Leander; Trudy's North Star reopens in Northwest Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, including Tiff's Treats opening in Hutto.

Austin ISD will offer virtual learning, expecting about 5% of students to apply. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Austin public schools release virtual learning plan

Austin ISD will offer virtual learning, expecting about 5% of students to apply.

student writing on paper
Texas Legislature allows parents to opt for students to repeat grade levels or courses

Senate Bill 1697 is effective for the 2021-22 school year.