Austin City Council's Concerns Over Stadium Plan Linger has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.


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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)


Jimmy Flannigan of Austin City Council used a soccer reference to sum up his thoughts on a term sheet between the city and Crew SC operator Precourt Sports Ventures that would call for a new soccer stadium on city-owned land in the Texas capital.

"I think the staff has done a good job moving the ball closer to the goal," he said of the proposal, which could lead to the Crew leaving Columbus after this season.

Some council members saw the term sheet, released Friday, as a step forward from PSV's initial proposal in June, but most still raised issues they would like to see addressed before council has to vote Aug. 9.

Council member Ora Houston raised concerns over whether a lawsuit brought by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein against PSV and Major League Soccer will force Austin to take on any liability.

The lawsuit was filed to ensure PSV and MLS complied with a state law requiring a team receiving public money to either receive permission or else provide six months' notice and give locals a chance to purchase the team before leaving.

One of the major issues of contention in the lawsuit remains whether the necessary notice was given, and when.

Attorney Frank Jones, who has aided the city of Austin during negotiations, said there will not be any liability since the term sheet is nonbinding. He added that if the lawsuit hasn't been resolved by the time the city believes it has to have a deal completed, there will be ways out of any lease.

Those would limit the risk for the city if the lawsuit does not end in PSV and MLS' favor.

"Taking this vote on the 9th, before a decision is made (in the lawsuit), is like getting remarried before the divorce is final," Houston said.

Paying for a rail station near the stadium site remained an issue. Council member Delia Garza proposed that PSV, which under the term sheet would not be required to pay for the station, provide $3 million toward it and include a $1 transportation surcharge per ticket.

"I can only support a proposal that provides clear support for and makes a clear investment in our transit system," she wrote in an online posting.

Benefits to the community was questioned, too. Although the term sheet listed community benefits provided by PSV that would total an estimated $95,879,908 over 25 years, several council members noted a lack of specifics.

"Some of what was most exciting to me about this potential proposal will be in the community benefit agreement," Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo said. "As several of my colleagues noted, that's not before it in a concrete fashion. ... I'm uncomfortable with not reviewing those final details because, to me, they're critical elements of why I would support it."

Council member Leslie Pool reiterated several questions she still has for PSV.

"We need extensive financial and other information (from PSV) as part of our decision-making process," she said. "Are any of the entities that we might contract with going to be good and faithful partners for the city of Austin and its residents?"

A special meeting to discuss alternative proposals for the same parcel as the stadium is set for Tuesday. Austin commercial real estate firm Capella Capital Partners has submitted two separate proposals -- both of which include a soccer stadium, one at the site and the other at an alternate site, in addition to a mixed-use development.

Micah King, a representative for developers Marcus Whitfield and John Chen, said his group will submit a proposal before the deadline of Friday.

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August 2, 2018


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