Public Notice: Soccer at Last

Pro team, stadium planned at COTA


by USL Austin / Miro Rivera Architects

Big news on Wednesday out of United Soccer League headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and COTA headquarters in Southeast Austin: Austin will again have a pro soccer team, starting in 2019 – playing at a brand-new, 5,000-seat soccer-specific stadium built by and at the Circuit of the Americas, next to the Formula 1 track and Austin360 Amphitheater. The team will play in the same league as the late lamented Austin Aztex, and is spearheaded by COTA Chair­man Bobby Epstein, a minority owner in the Aztex who recently assumed majority ownership, but it won't keep the name. None has yet been decided, but FC Austin is the front-runner and placeholder: That's the name pasted on the artist's rendering that accompanies the announcement on www.uslsoccer.com.

There's already been grumbling among aficionados, primarily about the location, but the plan has a lot more promise of success coming out of the gate than any previous incarnation has. First and foremost is the stadium. Much as I love House Park, that was never going to be a viable long-term option for a pro franchise. (No beer!) And no one else has been able to untangle the Gordian knot of finance, land availability, and scalability that would be required to pull off a near-Downtown stadium plan. COTA has the land, and will build the stadium at no public cost, as an expansion of the new 1,000-seat FC Barce­lo­na Escola training facility that's due to open in a couple of weeks.

Second is Epstein himself, who has a long history in local soccer as a player and supporter, and an equally long history of business success. This is clearly something he and COTA want to do, and they are not going to do it half-assed. Epstein has also long had his sights on a higher level: He was a booster of previous efforts toward bringing Major League Soccer to Austin, and that still has to be somewhere on the wish list. Austin has fallen pretty far down the list of MLS hopefuls, but League Commissioner Don Garber was still touting us as a promising market at his SXSW appearance in March. But anyway, that's the ride we're on now.

FCBEscola, meanwhile, is about to kick off its inaugural, 2017-18 training season, beginning Aug. 18 (see www.schools.fcbarcelona.us/austin).


Midcentury modern is all the rage – come learn about Arthur Fehr and Charles Granger, the UT Architecture grads who introduced it to Austin (the Mueller Airport control tower, the St. Elmo-Tel) when that architectural era was just beginning in the U.S., in

Fehr & Granger, Architects – Austin Modernists, an exhibit by the Austin History Center and the Austin chapter of the American Institute of Architects, at the Austin Center for Architecture, 801 W. 12th. Opening reception Tuesday, Aug. 15, at 6:30pm; then Mon-Thu., 8:30am-6pm, and Fri., 8:30am-noon, except when AIA has meetings; see www.aiaaustin.org/calendar for availability.


The Austin Green Awards highlight outstanding accomplishments in sustainable design and innovation. Categories include buildings and sites, including landscapes and infrastructure, and the 2017 call for nominations is now open at www.atxgreenawards.org, with the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems as the host and fiscal sponsor. There's an informational call this Friday, Aug. 11, 11am-noon; email info@atxgreenawards.org for call-in info.


The Texas Colorado River Rolling Exhibit, aka the Mobile River, is a 42-foot trailer packed with "interactive models and fun, educational video games," produced by the Colorado River Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to the river's conservation and protection of this irreplaceable natural resource. It'll be parked and open to the public at Barton Springs Pool, Tue.-Wed., Aug. 15-16. See www.coloradoriver.org for more info.

Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful grist to nbarbaro@austinchronicle.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Soccer, United Soccer League, Bobby Epstein, FC Austin, Don Garber

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