City Council votes to move forward with MLS stadium discussions, approves $925M bond

Precourt Sports Ventures renderings of potential soccer stadium at McKalla Place (Renderings courtesy: Gensler, TBG and CAA ICON)

Early Friday morning, the Austin City Council voted to begin talks with Precourt Sports Ventures for a Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place in north Austin, near The Domain.

Council also voted to consider any alternative proposals for mixed-use projects at the site, and may make a choice at their August 9 meeting.

The Austin City Council also approved a $925 million bond package late Thursday that will be put to voters in November.

That bond measure includes a $250 million package for affordable housing, mobility, parks and libraries, and to address flooding.

For months, the Columbus Crew ownership group - Precourt Sports Ventures, or PSV - has discussed an interest in relocating the team from Ohio to Austin.

They identified interest in building their stadium at McKalla Place.

Almost 100 people signed up to speak during the public discussion session that went well into the night.

"Lots of soccer fans in Austin," said Kathie Tovo, the Mayor Pro Tem and City Council member representing District 9. "Tonight will be significant because we'll see if this council is in support of moving forward with this or not."

In their proposal for the stadium, PSV offered to pay for all of the construction, then donate the stadium to the city.

In exchange, the team would not have to pay property taxes on the stadium, and pay only $1 per year for rent.

"If this passes today, we'll move forward and say 'these are our terms that we want to structure the deal on. They have proceeded under the assumption they wouldn't have to pay property taxes, and that'll be something we discuss in the negotiation processes," Tovo said.

Recently, a video has gained popularity, claiming the city would be giving $1 billion dollars to PSV if they agree to the proposal.

PolitiFact has released an article saying this claim is completely untrue, and Tovo agrees.

"Certainly none of the estimates I have heard come anywhere close to that amount."

The use of publicly-owned land for a soccer stadium has caused a lot debate in recent months.

Soccer fans say the city would benefit economically from having a sports team in the city, on top of having another source of entertainment.

Opponents say the land was originally designated for public housing, which is a more pressing need for the city than a soccer team.

No matter the outcome of the vote, this is still just the beginning of the process.

"It is by no means the last step in this process. It will be a next step," Tovo said.

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