Council Punts Soccer to Wednesday

Amendments, curfew delays votes on McKalla Place

City Council pushed a vote on bringing Major League Soccer to Austin another week last night.

An architectural rendering of Precourt Sports Ventures' proposed soccer stadium at McKalla Place

The body was set to vote on an agenda item that would potentially authorize City Manager Spencer Cronk to finish negotiating and then execute deal with Precourt Sports Ventures to relocate the Columbus Crew to Austin, but early in the day Council committed itself to adjourning the meeting at midnight. Although the soccer item was picked up as the first agenda item after the 6pm dinner break, a robust set of public speakers meant that Council couldn’t begin deliberating until 10pm.

With about 25 amendments proposed, not to mention a revised draft of the term sheet between PSV and the city that was released the previous night, Mayor Steve Adler recognized that it would be unlikely for Council to debate each amendment – some of which he said “were clearly poison pills” aimed at killing the deal, a characterization Leslie Pool disagreed with and called “disrespectful to the process" – take a vote on soccer, and take up other work that needed resolution, so he suggested postponing until next week. Wednesday at 9am is the new date: Council has committed to putting the issue to a vote.

Although there was no vote Thursday night, other important revelations about the reshaped term sheet were revealed. Delia Garza proposed securing $640,000 for Capital Metro up front to improve transit facilities (most likely building and upgrading bus stops) in the area, as well as $3 million paid to the transportation authority over time. Greg Casar continued to push for affordable housing on-site, proposing an amendment that would require the housing be built by a specified year or place PSV in violation of the lease. Casar also proposed setting aside 1,000 tickets to be sold at affordable prices, as a way of ensuring the games are accessible to low-income residents as well. All seemed agreeable to reps for PSV.

After a revised version of the initial term sheet was released late Wednesday night, another full day of last-minute negotiations between city staff and PSV resulted in a final set of terms agreeable to both sides. Big changes include: a non-relocation clause that would cost PSV $1 million for every year remaining on the lease should they move the team during a lease term; a provision requiring PSV to follow through on proposed community benefits (estimated to be valued at $72,806,951 over 20 years); and additional language that would open the door for ticket surcharges to fund transportation and site maintenance, among others.

Achieving equity in financial support for girls' and boys' soccer leagues also emerged as a prominent point of debate (per the term sheet, an MLS academy will receive $36 million from PSV, but it caters to boys). While true equity is unlikely, Suttle said PSV reached a binding agreement with Lonestar Soccer Club to provide support for girl soccer players. Suttle would not disclose any details of the agreement – such as how much money LSC would receive – because it’s a “proprietary agreement between two private parties.”

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Soccer, Precourt Sports Ventures, Columbus Crew, McKalla Place

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