State and local community leaders pounded symbolic railroad tracks with mallets as part of the McKalla Station groundbreaking ceremony July 18.

About 300 people milled about on the east side of Q2 Stadium as the band 80Hproject warmed up the crowd. Later, Austin FC’s supporter section band led chants of “Cinco! Uno! Dos!” and sang “McKalla Oh La La” to the tune of Camilla Cabello’s “Havana.”

Dottie Watkins, Capital Metro interim president and CEO, said the station at McKalla Place is one of the most anticipated stations the transportation authority has had.

“This will be the most fan-friendly rail station in the MLS,” she said.

Watkins said event transportation is a great introduction to public transportation for many.

State Rep. Celia Israel said the Red Line is expected to usher about 20,000 passengers through McKalla Station on game days.

“Transit changes your perspective about how we grow and where we are growing,” Israel said.

State Rep. Sheryl Cole said she is looking forward to all of the progress Project Connect has in store.

“Transit is a powerful equity tool,” she said, adding the addition of the McKalla Station will offer more reliable transit to employment and recreation.

Jeff Travillion, Travis County commissioner and chair of the Capital Metro board of directors, said transit is important to the life of a city.

“The community planned to put something together that is really special and make this the most livable place in the area,” he said.

Veronica Castro de Barrera, chair of the Austin Transit Partnership’s board, said Project Connect was a project that would be done with “transparency, equity and without raising taxes.”

She said the connectivity the project offers is not just between places, but between people, cultures, experiences and ethnicities.

Austin FC President Andy Loughnane said when McKalla Station is built, “it will be totally transformational.”

“It’s amazing to see how many people are here to make this an incredible connection between club and community,” he said. “The Red Line station was not always a certainty. It took a lot of work to get here.”

The new station is on the east side of Q2 Stadium off Delta Drive. It will include two passenger platforms and a special event platform along with a shared-use pedestrian and bike path. Other amenities include canopies, bike racks and a ticket vending machine.

The purpose of the station is to improve connectivity to the North Burnet Road area, Braker Lane and Metric Boulevard along with “direct, convenient, and safe public transportation to events at Q2 stadium,” according to a release from Capital Metro.

The station also will fill a need for a better transit option linking affordable housing and jobs and increase access to popular destinations such as the Domain, Uptown ATX, restaurants, breweries and other nearby businesses, according to the release.

The tentative completion date is in late 2023.