Council member absences may slow study of McKalla as MLS stadium site


Highlights

Various council members won’t be present at next two meetings, putting discussion on hold.

Tovo: ‘I remain enthusiastic about continuing this conversation.’

A resolution to direct Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk to conduct a deeper analysis of McKalla Place as a potential site for a Major League Soccer stadium will be put on hold because of several City Council members’ coming absences.

On Friday, Council Member Kathie Tovo posted a soccer item to the March 22 agenda, but since Council Member Leslie Pool, whose District 7 includes the North Austin property near the Domain, will not be available for that meeting, Tovo will move to postpone Item 48.

After March 22, the City Council will take a three-week break. When members return April 12, Tovo, Mayor Steve Adler and Council Members Delia Garza and Ellen Troxclair will be absent, so April 26 becomes the most likely date for soccer to be a topic on the agenda.

A June 1 deadline was set for city staff to deliver a report on the viability of McKalla Place as an MLS stadium and a detailed analysis of the possible community benefits.

Anthony Precourt, owner/operator of Columbus Crew SC, said in a statement Thursday that his efforts to move the team to Austin will now focus on exploring city-owned McKalla Place as the top option for a privately financed stadium. The 24-acre site at the intersection of Braker Lane and Burnet Road was one of five identified by the city staff in December as a possibility.

Precourt’s announcement was greeted with enthusiasm in a lot of quarters because McKalla is not parkland and is on an “underutilized city-owned tract in an industrial area that can be made easily accessible to public transportation,” Adler told the American-Statesman.

McKalla, which has had a history of environmental issues, is being used as a storage site by Austin Water, Resource Recovery and Public Works.

Adler, Pool and Council Members Sabino “Pio” Renteria and Ann Kitchen are co-sponsoring Tovo’s resolution to fully vet McKalla Place.

From February: McKalla Place — the good, bad and ugly for possible MLS stadium site

“I believe this research and engagement will yield a deeper understanding of any challenges, revenue-sharing opportunities and community benefits that could be associated with a Major League Soccer team coming to Austin,” Tovo wrote on a council post late Thursday.

“I do hope we’ll be able to consider the resolution as soon as possible. I remain enthusiastic about continuing this conversation, particularly about the community benefits that could be generated by such a partnership.”

Precourt officials were pleased with Thursday’s developments.

“We are glad to focus on a site that Austinites can support and rally around,” Austin MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle said. “The McKalla site has lots of potential.”

Drew Scheberle, senior vice president for advocacy and policy for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, said he is excited that Austin is moving closer to its first major league franchise.

“We are honored that Mr. Precourt would make such a substantial investment in our community, bring nearly 1,000 jobs and further develop our youth programs,” he said.



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