You’ve just became a major-league town.
And this should be just the beginning.
The Columbus Crew should become Austin’s “Whew” after the City Council’s 7-4 vote Wednesday to allow Precourt Sports Ventures to build a soccer stadium in North Austin.
With that hurdle cleared, the Crew could take up residence in the nation’s 11th largest city. Kudos to the council for finally getting into a room and hammering out a suitable agreement. It should have happened months ago.
Kudos to Mayor Steve Adler, who secured his career legacy with with this get. In 25 years, when someone asks, “Who was Steve Adler?” someone may answer, “You know, he was the mayor responsible for bringing major league soccer to Austin.” That’s called building a legacy, friends.
Adler somehow brought together people of vast differences, motives, and philosophies to bring about a resolution and in the process, he gained a few new fans in our profession after a City Council meeting uncharacteristically ended with bright sunshine still peeping through the windows at the state capitol.
Now about that Austin just becoming a major-league town thing … if MLS indeed makes it here, it won’t take away the unchallenge-able University of Texas brand. The burnt orange is the preeminent merchandising monster among universities and Longhorns football — its recent struggles aside — is still printing money (and spending it) in record numbers.
Which brings us to Austin. This place is far from a one-horse town and now that major league sports will apparently commence competition in the spring of 2019, it should be a harbinger of things to come.
The next question has to be: Does this position Austin to move even deeper into the professional sports realm? Could an NFL, NBA or MLB franchise be in the works in the next five to 10 years? This place is plenty big enough to make it happen though the machinations of an agreement are infinitely more complicated than the events that have taken place over the last few months.
Why not Austin? The 512 is the second-largest metropolitan area in the country to not have a major-league franchise, right behind the Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario area in Southern California. Austin was previously ranked behind Las Vegas but Sin City left that list since the Las Vegas Golden Knights have taken up residence there. Also, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders will be headed that way in 2020. By then, the hope is that McKalla Place’s massive $200 million facelift will be complete and that the Austin Weird — let that name marinate for a while before you reject it — will be in the middle of the MLS playoffs.
Texas is bigger in area than California yet Cali has a combined 13 franchises in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Texas has only seven. Austin has the hotels, the nightlife, the buzz and the fun factor that could make it a destination for major franchises.
Today it’s the MLS.
Tomorrow, the world.