Officials: MLS team could bring fields to communities

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Update 12:45, Aug. 9: The City of Round Rock Sports Tourism Department provided the following statement for this article:

"At this time, the Sports Management and Tourism Department staff have been contacted by a real estate site selector working on behalf of the MLS group to relocate a team to Austin about the potential of using the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex for practices. City of Round Rock staff have not had any further discussions about the impact that the potential relocation could have on Round Rock. As the Sports Capital of Texas, we are excited to see new sporting opportunities coming to our region and the benefits that potential brings," said City of Round Rock Sports Management and Tourism Director Chad McKenzie.

Original post: In the midst of relocation efforts to secure a Major League Soccer team in Austin, Precourt Sports Ventures LLC has been holding conversations with local community groups to bring soccer fields and field maintenance to local communities.

The meetings, involving more than a dozen youth soccer clubs and organizations, have focused around what PSV will provide to the Austin region, according to PSV President Dave Greeley.

“Our focus will be ... the entire Austin region—the city, region and maybe even broader Central Texas,” Greeley said.

PSV, which bought MLS’ Columbus Crew in 2013, announced in October that it was exploring relocating the Ohio-based team to Austin. On June 1, PSV submitted a proposal to build a stadium at McKalla Place, a 24-acre, city-owned piece of property located in North Austin. Austin City Council voted June 29 to begin negotiations with PSV to develop the property, as well as accept plans from competing developers.

In its June 1 proposal for the McKalla Place property, PSV outlined $11.2 million in funds it plans to spend for “public access and park beautification”. That amount of spending could end up benefiting surrounding communities such as Pflugerville.

“When [PSV] had meetings with [local clubs], field use and field maintenance was key,” Pflugerville City Council Member Rudy Metayer said. Metayer, who officiates semipro soccer matches and currently coaches a recreational league soccer team, helped to bring local clubs and PSV together in the early phases of discussions.

The Pflugerville Parks and Recreation Department in 2013 published a report that found the city needed six to 10 new soccer fields. Pflugerville’s new 1849 Park will feature three multipurpose fields equivalent to the size of six full-size soccer fields, as well as three football fields, at the end of its first phase of construction.

Prior to the June 29 vote, the city of Austin and PSV coordinated a series of meetings throughout May with community leaders, organizations and sports groups to collect community input. Per Greeley and Metayer much of the dialogue between local groups and PSV has focused on providing recreational spaces for soccer and futsal — a variation of soccer — throughout Travis County.

“We want to put good quality fields in the neighborhoods and communities that may not have access to good playing areas,” Greeley said.

If PSV can construct soccer fields and kick in on maintenance and refurbishing costs, Metayer said, the city can prioritize other areas of recreational need, such as baseball and softball fields.

“From my end, anything that can help us buttress spending our sales taxes and property tax revenue on field upkeep, I’m all for it,” Metayer said.

Any prospective MLS team in Austin will additionally need to establish some sort of youth soccer academy, according to Greeley.

Early plans are in place to establish a fully funded soccer academy that trains 120 local youth players every year. Greeley stated this academy could potentially provide youth players opportunities for college scholarships or even professional contracts.

“There’s a concern we are putting soccer resources in the community just for elite programs, and that’s not the case at all. We want to embrace soccer at all levels of competition,” Greeley said.

PSV has held conversations with several Pflugerville soccer clubs, including Lonestar Soccer Club, the Pflugerville Area Youth Soccer League and Austin Texans Soccer Club. Advocacy organizations Soccer Assist, Upper Ninety and Austin Soccer Foundation have also held discussions with the MLS organization.

The city of Austin contends an MLS team located at McKalla Place will additionally serve to provide economic stimulus to the surrounding county in an economic impact study published June 1. The report states operation of the stadium will generate $31.6 million in economic activity, $30.7 million in wages and 507 full-time equivalent jobs in Travis County.

Austin City Council will vote Aug. 9 on whether to execute an agreement with PSV outlined in a term sheet provided to the city on July 27.

Provisions in the term sheet call for complimentary tickets and assistance in developing transportation to the stadium. Additionally, PSV would have to begin paying $550,000 in annual rent on the McKalla Place property beginning in the sixth year of the lease.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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