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Austin Slow Plays MLS Stadium Site Study

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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

Last month, Austin City Council pushed to Feb. 15 an agenda item calling for "discussion and possible action" on the potential use of city-owned sites for a Major League Soccer stadium and practice facility.

The schedule change came shortly after city staff produced a memo and report detailing eight sites marked for further analysis.

The Feb. 15 meeting might result in an important next step in Crew SC's possible relocation to Austin, Texas, after the 2018 season.

In the meantime, the message from the city and community outreach to this point illustrates the early stages of a lengthy process.

City of Austin spokesperson David Green said he anticipates a more-thorough analysis of the sites will be brought to Austin City Council at its Feb. 15 meeting. Until council members discuss that updated analysis, he said, there are still parts of the community engagement process that remain on hold.

"The stakeholder process, obviously, is going to be somewhat informed by what council tells us," Green said. "We can't really design the community engagement process until we have a better idea of what we're looking for."

A week before the report on stadium sites was made public last month, Precourt Sports Ventures, Crew SC's ownership group, released a rendering and sketch of a stadium at Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, located across Lady Bird Lake from downtown Austin. PSV has not discussed in detail any of the stadium sites since the report's release.

Richard Suttle, an Austin-based attorney who has been lobbying on behalf of PSV, declined to comment.

One site that would appear to meet a few of PSV's requirements is a 24-acre, city-owned parcel located at McKalla Place in north Austin. The location is outside of Austin's urban core, but would provide direct access to the MetroRail and is not far from The Domain, a popular retail and office center.

An informal survey of the 18 stakeholders - seven soccer-specific groups listed for each of the eight sites, 10 area neighborhood-related groups and one school district - listed for the McKalla location suggests an outreach process that, as Green noted, is still in its early stages.

Irene Konig, President of the Quail Hollow Neighborhood Association, said, "I've heard nothing."

Angela De Hoyos Hart, President of the River Oaks Neighborhood Association, reported the same via email.

Gabriel Rojas of the North Austin Civic Association said in an email he had not heard of any outreach from the city, "However, I have heard of (the) proposed location for the stadium."

Francoise Luca of the Gracywoods Neighborhood Association said the site was addressed by Michael Gaudini, policy aide for District 7 Council member Leslie Pool, at their most recent association meeting last week. Gaudini did not return a message seeking comment.

"He reported that all the sites are still being reviewed and there hasn't been any decision on which sites are still in the running and which sites have been eliminated from the original list," Luca said. "As far as we know, that site is still available."

North Austin Soccer Alliance President Rick Jacobsen said he "had no earthly idea" that his group was listed by the city as a stakeholder for each of the eight proposed sites.

While there is likely to be more detailed analysis and outreach for each site, McKalla Place included, conducted between now and Feb. 15, Austin's stadium identification process is a long way from complete.

"I think that there are some people out there that are under some sort of perception that on the 15th of February, the council is going to pick a site and that's it, and that's not what's happening," Green said. "There are still a ton of nuances and this is very early in the process."

aerickson@dispatch.com

@AEricksonCD

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January 16, 2018
 
 
 

 

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