The president of Precourt Sports Ventures said his group was encouraged by an Austin city staff report Friday determining that McKalla Place is suitable for a Major League Soccer stadium.
“We’re not surprised, but we are pleased with the results,” Dave Greeley told the American-Statesman on Saturday. “We’ve been vetting this and analyzing it for quite some time. We’ve been communicating with the city for weeks. There’s been a lot of back and forth and a robust community engagement process.
“We feel confident based on the city’s in-depth analysis backing up our own. The data is clear, and so are the voices of fans: Austin wants MLS.”
Precourt Sports Ventures operates Columbus Crew SC and plans to move the team to Austin for 2019 if it can strike a deal with the City Council to privately finance a $200 million stadium on the city-owned North Austin site. PSV would play in a temporary home for two years while the facility is being built.
“Overall, staff’s assessment indicates that McKalla Place is a suitable site for a Major League Soccer stadium,” the report stated. “There is current compliant zoning, sufficient utility capacity, and daily on-site trips would be low.”
With few exceptions, the report provided fuel to those who say the project can work.
“We don’t see a lot of obstacles,” Greeley said. “The report mentioned the height of the stadium as an issue that would require zoning approval, but that can be worked out. The results lend themselves to the partnership we want to form with the city.”
Council Member Leslie Pool, whose District 7 includes McKalla Place, pointed out that the report also said the 24-acre property is suitable for mixed-use housing.
“I still prefer that Precourt find a private piece of land,” Pool said. “But I understand their play. It’s cheaper for them if they use city property and wrangle a deal where they don’t have to pay property taxes. If there is an arrangement, we should get a minimum of community benefits commensurate to whatever property taxes would come off that site.
“I do see the potential for soccer at McKalla and spurring further growth in that area. My constituents seem to be evenly split between soccer supporters and people concerned about housing.”
Greeley said his group has met with Foundation Communities, an Austin nonprofit that provides affordable housing, and wants to partner with it. The Precourt proposal calls for a $500,000 up-front payment to the new Waters Park Studio development near McKalla and a total of $4.8 million over 25 years toward Austin affordable housing.
The city report said infrastructure upgrades would cost close to $4 million, not counting a $13 million MetroRail station that all parties would like but nobody wants to fully fund. These items might be negotiated this month around June 14 and June 28 council meetings, although Pool has repeatedly said PSV should foot the entire bill.
“We view infrastructure as a collaborative thing,” Greeley said. “We’ll continue to have that dialogue.”
Greeley said his group wants a memorandum of understanding with the city this summer in order to move the club here by early 2019.
The PSV president said he’s learned a lot about Austin since October when Anthony Precourt announced his intention to relocate.
“Surprises?” he was asked. “I knew Austin was a passionate place, but I didn’t know the level of that. There are such diverse groups covering a wide range of perspectives. We’re trying to balance all that and create a unifying platform.”