Precourt Sports Ventures’ vision for a Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place includes three access roads, limited on-site parking and a canopy encompassing the entire seating bowl.
The Columbus Crew SC owners on Tuesday revealed their site plan for the 24-acre, city-owned property in North Austin. They aim to make a proposal to the city within the next two weeks, and the city staff has a June 1 deadline to deliver its detailed analysis of McKalla Place.
Currently the site, largely vacant since it was purchased from a chemical company in 1995, has limited access, only on McKalla Place. The PSV plan is to allow access from Burnet Road and Braker Lane as well.
“We’re in discussions with a private developer off Burnet and have permission and an agreement with them to access the site through their property. They’ll design around us, and that really helps,” said Dan Vaillant, executive vice president for CAA Icon, a sports and entertainment consulting firm.
“We’ll have Burnet and Braker, and McKalla Place can be used more for commercial and truck traffic. So that’s three good entrances on and off site and the Cap Metro rail line within close proximity.”
City Council Member Kathie Tovo noted that there wasn’t much information in the site plan but likes parts of what she saw.
“The three access points are a real positive,” Tovo said. “There are walkways and a parklike feel, and I’m encouraged that the Precourt group is thinking about ways the site can benefit the community.”
PSV would like a rail station on the east side of the site. Right now the Kramer station is about a mile away from McKalla Place. City officials have indicated to the American-Statesman that the station is likely to move. But where, and who pays for it, are to be determined.
Council Member Leslie Pool, whose District 7 encompasses McKalla Place, was unavailable for comment Tuesday, according to a staff aide.
Vaillant — who’s been involved with sports facility projects in Nashville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh; Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta — said PSV will pursue “vigorous ride-sharing programs” and expects many fans will walk to the stadium from neighborhood brewpubs or the Domain.
“We’re planning a walking trail to the west side of the site,” Vaillant said. “Right now it’s an abandoned rail line that runs adjacent to the site. We want it to be a walking trail to and from the Domain.”
The site plan includes 1,000 parking spaces for cars and 500 spaces for bikes. PSV President Dave Greeley told the Statesman there are approximately 10,000 spaces within a 20-minute walk. Deals would have to be negotiated with those owners.
“Lots of people will say that’s not enough, but that ratio works for a lot of urban stadiums being built these days,” Vaillant said. “Orlando City (MLS) stadium was developed with fewer than 500 parking spaces and hasn’t been a problem at all. Our plan doesn’t clog traffic in the Burnet/Braker intersection.”
Tovo said the lack of on-site parking could be a concern. “That conversation will need to take place,” she said.
Fans will find shade once inside the stadium. The canopy planned over the 20,000-seating area is, according to Greeley, “very expensive, but we need it with the heat down here.”
The plan also includes music and performance space east of the stadium, a retention pond on the southeast side and trees interspersed within the parking areas.
“We want this to resemble a traditional English soccer grounds,” Greeley said. “We intend to have trails, a lot of trees and green space, an area the community can use. We want to think of it as a stadium within a park.”
Tovo said, “I hadn’t anticipated the music space and will have to give that some thought. It is an interesting idea.”
PSV officials have said they want some kind of agreement with the city before the council takes its summer break in July.
“While McKalla is not a downtown site, there is a lot of upside here,” Vaillant said. “It’s an urban industrial zone, so I don’t think we’ll disrupt residential areas adjacent to it. Yet it has the Domain nearby, so you could really make a connection and see the place taking off.”