Crew owner’s letter touts $326 million in benefits for McKalla Place


Highlights

Austin MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle: ‘This is to get the conversation started.’

Letter to City Council gives long list of benefits but is short on financial detail.

Mayor Steve Adler said he looks forward to moving the conversation forward.

Precourt Sports Ventures sent a letter to the Austin City Council late Tuesday afternoon detailing a community benefits package it says is worth in excess of $326 million over the next 25 years in exchange for a possible Major League Soccer stadium site at McKalla Place.

Anthony Precourt, owner/operator of Columbus Crew SC, has narrowed his stadium search to the 24-acre tract of city-owned land near the Domain in North Austin. He said he will privately finance a 20,000-seat stadium if he gets help with a suitable location.

The franchise is attempting to move to Austin next year and would set up shop in a temporary home.

While the letter offers a total financial outlay, it is short on specifics.

“This is to get the conversation started,” Austin MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle told the American-Statesman. “It is simply a beginning point. As we reach out to stakeholders, we can have more discussions about what community benefits are important to the city.”

Council Member Kathie Tovo, who authored a resolution for the city staff to fully vet McKalla Place, said the letter is a good first step.

“I’m enthusiastic about continuing to explore a McKalla site that offers a lot of promise,” she told the Statesman. “I appreciate the effort Precourt made to make sure community benefits are part of the conversation from the outset.

“I like the approach, the integration of how it could benefit AISD and build partnerships with nonprofits. Now I’ll want to see how those benefits compare to what owners in other major league cities do for their communities when they build on city-owned land.”

The Precourt letter states that “if one backs out the $234 million in wages and internships, the total contribution from Precourt Sports Ventures (direct cash contributions, community investments and some in-kind services) would exceed $90 million over the first 25 years.”

There are pledges of $6.25 million of “sourcing to local companies” in the construction phase, $4 million in charitable donations to local nonprofits, $2.5 million in direct cash contributions to groups such as the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Austin school district’s foundation, and $1.35 million in direct revenue distribution to local small food and beverage companies that will serve at the new stadium.

Yet the $92 million difference between the wages and internships dollar figure and the $326 million total isn’t clearly spelled out.

There are many other proposed benefits listed in the letter with no dollar values attached to them: U.S. Soccer Development Academy, youth soccer camps and clinics for underserved kids, scholarships, equipment and gear donations, meeting and event space for neighborhood nonprofits, limited use of the stadium free of rent, ticket giveaways for local organizations, community events, concerts, and local employment and job training.

Mayor Steve Adler said he is eager to see the proposal.

“I haven’t reviewed the team’s proposed benefit package yet, but it’s great having gotten one because now the conversation can move forward to try to find the right solution that gets this town a professional sport team,” he said.

After early attempts at potentially using city-owned parkland for a stadium were shot down, Suttle said McKalla could be just the right home.

“It’s a site surrounded by industrial parkways with entertainment options not far away,” he said. “ I think it’s a great site for a soccer stadium.”

Chris Bils contributed to this story.



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