City and Precourt Sign Agreement to Bring Soccer to Town
Not whether, but when for Austin FC
Now it's official; the city of Austin has finalized and signed an agreement with Precourt Sports Ventures that will bring an Austin FC soccer team to town in either 2020 or 2021. Groundbreaking on a $225 million soccer park at the 24-acre, city-owned McKalla Place site near the Domain is expected to occur in 2019, with the stadium officially opening in the spring of 2021.
The timeline for Austin's first major league sports team is loosely dependent on what happens in Ohio, where PSV CEO Anthony Precourt currently operates the Columbus Crew SC. Sources close to the deal tell the Chronicle that the outcome of a deal being worked out between the Haslam family (owners of the Cleveland Browns), Major League Soccer, Columbus, and Ohio officials will determine what team Austin gets – not whether Austin will get a team.
Team owners within MLS pay a fee to the league to license intellectual property and the rights to operate a franchise. Precourt owns such a license to operate the Crew, and MLS officials have granted him permission to take that license – and not the team itself – with him to a new city. Sources say that MLS officials are awaiting the outcome of the Haslam negotiations: If the family and the league agree on a deal (the ideal scenario), Precourt starts a new team in Austin, and Haslam would be allowed to purchase a new franchise license to keep the Crew brand, infrastructure, and team operating in Columbus. If that doesn't play out, Precourt could still move his license to Austin – but with the perception, justified or not, of having "stolen" the team from another city.