A long day’s night shaping up for Austin City Council’s MLS votes


McKalla Place stadium resolutions face lengthy debate.

Bidding process could run out the clock on Austin’s MLS hopes.

New Tovo, Pool amendments aim for a better deal for the city.

One of the beauties of soccer matches is they move quickly and are over in under two hours.

That will not be the case Thursday when the Austin City Council takes up the hotly debated McKalla Place/soccer topic at its final meeting before a six-week summer break.

The council is expected to go deep into the night to vote on two proposals that could determine the future of Major League Soccer in Austin. The meeting begins at 10 a.m., but soccer is not expected to come up until close to the 8 p.m. slot that owners of Columbus Crew SC intend to start their matches in Austin next year. There are predictions the debate could go on til 2 a.m.

The pro-soccer resolution, if passed, directs the city manager to analyze the Precourt Sports Ventures’ proposal for the city-owned North Austin site and begin negotiations on a privately financed stadium. The resolution was amended by co-sponsor Kathie Tovo to also solicit plans for the development of affordable housing on a different city-owned tract.

Insiders have told the American-Statesman that resolution should pass, probably easily.

The accompanying resolution, which most soccer fans and Precourt officials consider unfriendly but other groups view as fair and equitable, would create a bidding process that squares off PSV with developers and, as Council Member Leslie Pool says, “may the best man win.”

That will be a lengthy debate that could get contentious oh, say, around midnight.

Each resolution has four sponsors, likely leaving Jimmy Flannigan, Ann Kitchen and Greg Casar to hold sway.

Pool, whose district includes McKalla Place, said she hoped the bidding could be done by the Aug. 9 council meeting. PSV is looking at a tight timeline to move the team here by the end of the year, provided litigation is settled in Columbus. They don’t even have a temporary home for 2019.

Richard Suttle, an MLS lobbyist who works for Anthony Precourt, told the Statesman on Wednesday he cannot envision a complicated bidding process like that coming together so quickly. PSV points out the council voted 9-0 in March to explore McKalla Place as a potential MLS home for the Crew without a mention of having to win a bid-off against developers.

PSV officials, who previously said they need an agreement with the city by the end of June, stopped short of saying a “yes” vote to bidding kills the soccer project. But there are rumblings MLS officials won’t wait much longer.

Meanwhile, various Austin chambers of commerce scheduled a 12:30 p.m. pro-soccer rally Thursday at the City Hall. MLS supporters groups are asking fans to show up at 6:30 p.m., closer to the start time of the match, if you will.

Tovo and Pool stuffed their resolutions with extra amendments in the past few days while lawyers, PR firms and community activists made their final pitches.

“I think everybody is going to be amending things from the dais (Thursday),” Pool said.

Tovo’s additions concern getting a better deal from Precourt involving parking, traffic, building standards, a new Metro Rail transit stop, expanded community benefits for low-income families and protecting the city against financial loss.

Pool’s list covers some of the same ground and insists on a new Metro stop, which Cap Metro said would cost $13 million.

“Precourt should pay for a rail station,” she said. “He should include that in his proposal.”

She points to Brandywine Realty Trust paying for a station north of McKalla.

“They came to the table saying, ‘We will build this train station.’ Because I know people can do that, and they can offer it and not fight about it,” Pool said.

PSV has said a new rail stop is a bonus, not a necessity, indicating the group would not fund one itself.

Chris Bils contributed to this report.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Can the streaming era lift niche sports?
Can the streaming era lift niche sports?

Karate Combat, a full-contact karate league, held its first event in Miami in April. Only a few hundred fans were in attendance, which was intentional for this niche sports organization that launched this year and is far more focused on making money from media deals than putting people in seats. Michael DePietro, Karate Combat’s chief executive...
2018 fantasy football RB rankings: Gurley overtakes Bell
2018 fantasy football RB rankings: Gurley overtakes Bell

Well, it was fun while it lasted. When my overall player rankings came out on Monday, I had Le'Veon Bell as my top player, ahead of Todd Gurley. My reasoning was that Bell had a longer, more trustworthy track record of top performance, and that his receiving prowess spelled the difference in PPR formats (to which The Post's fantasy coverage defaults)...
After shedding questions about instability, Big 12's next challenge is winning titles
After shedding questions about instability, Big 12's next challenge is winning titles

The Big 12 took a hit during its football Media Days. On Monday, the conference was disappointed to learn that it had not been awarded a host role for a future men's basketball Final Four. Other than that, the league wrapped up two days of interviews gabbing mostly about routine football topics. Will someone beside Oklahoma win the conference? (No)...
Aaron Judge — huge talent, phenomenal trade bait
Aaron Judge — huge talent, phenomenal trade bait

Brian Cashman likes to portray himself as fearless, as a willing servant to whatever it takes to win a 28th World Series for the New York Yankees. He has not been afraid to bid adieu to a successful manager, as he did with Joe Girardi. He has not been afraid to stare down an icon like Derek Jeter or shout down a personality the size of Alex Rodriguez...
So this comedian walks onto a golf course: The unlikely rise of Michael Collins at ESPN

Michael Collins, the unlikely ESPN golf analyst, was doing the broadcast for a PGA Tour event not long ago when he heard a producer's voice in his ear. "He goes, 'Hey, someone just emailed and said that dude sounds like Tupac and Fat Albert had a baby - can you take him off the air please?' " Collins recalled with a chuckle. When the live...
More Stories