If you have enough interest in soccer that you're reading this column, then you've probably seen a pitch to "participate in a survey about bringing Major League Soccer to Austin." It's being promoted by various local business groups, and it's for real: As the survey introduction states, "Major League Soccer has retained Barrett Sports Group LLC, a nationally recognized sports management consulting firm, to evaluate the potential demand and support for an MLS team in Austin, Texas. As you may know, MLS is currently evaluating a number of potential MLS markets."
By all means, you should participate; the questions ask about stadium location and amenities in some detail, as well as about your personal likelihood to watch, attend, or purchase season tickets or luxury boxes. But lest you get your hopes too high, you should also be aware that last week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced some details of its next round of expansion – from 24 teams to 28 in the early 2020s – and Austin is not on his list of 10 cities currently considered front-runners.
Just four years ago, Austin was on the short list of a half-dozen cities being considered for the expansion from 20 teams to 24, but we've slid off the table since then, as there's been no apparent progress toward a viable stadium plan. (The Barrett survey assumes that "a new state-of-the-art soccer stadium is constructed" and offers four intriguing specific location options: "near Mueller development," "near the Domain," "near Circuit of the Americas," and "near Travis County Expo Center.") The buy-in fee is $150 million, apart from the stadium cost, and the proposal deadline is Jan. 31, 2017 – somebody better get cracking! See the survey at barrettsports.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9vrFRbLKNZbhIJD.