Precourt unveils McKalla Plan
Precourt Sports Ventures unveiled their plan Tuesday for transforming McKalla Place into a 20,000-seat soccer stadium for the potentially relocating Columbus Crew. The map details on-site parking for 1,000 cars and 500 bikes, trails, open space, and more; and leaves out affordable housing. PSV consultant Mark Littlefield suggested that aspect could be addressed by a PSV-funded community benefit. He said the project was "heading toward" that direction, but noted he had not seen PSV's full proposal. Expect traffic analysis, details on community benefits, an environmental assessment, and more on June 1.
His colleague Dan Vaillant estimates 10,000 additional parking spaces within a 20-minute walk, and speculated that PSV-operated shuttles could cart people from off-site. The limited on-site parking is designed to encourage fans to utilize alternate means of transportation. If Capital Metro and PSV can reach an agreement on a new train station (they've met once), the existing Kramer station would be decommissioned; its close proximity to the new stop would cause "operational concerns," said Cap Metro Planning & Development VP Todd Hemingson.
Tuesday's reveal marks the firmest movement toward McKalla, but there remains pushback, as evidenced by the city's final info session May 10 at the Montopolis Recreation Center. Unlike previous forums, speakers were interrupted and voices were raised as citizens peppered PSV and city officials with questions on construction worker wages and protections, and a perceived lack of communication about the meetings from city officials. Jessica Wolff, a representative for the Workers Defense Project who attended the meeting, said the WDP shared concerns about worker protections, but that she was encouraged by what she called PSV's commitment to "higher wage and safety standards for the people building this potential project." The two entities plan to meet soon on those details.
There were two notable critics: Pct. 4 County Commissioner Margaret Gómez and former County Auditor Susan Spataro, who volunteers in Gómez's office. Gómez has been a thorn in Precourt's side: In February, she opposed Guerrero Park as a stadium site, and now appears to be extending opposition to all public land. Reached Monday, she said she didn't "see the wisdom of giving taxpayer-owned land to private businesses."
Spataro has also been busy: She recently criticized the project before City Council, and the Statesman said she showed up to the meeting with "a two-page, bullet-point memo" outlining why the city should vet any deal with PSV. At a 2017 Commissioners Court meeting, Spataro admitted to performing "some property tax work" for Circuit of the Americas – a group that has some skin in the PSV game. COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein wants a United Soccer League team at his venue in 2019, and may still want to land an MLS team as well.