Report: Austin group working to land an MLS expansion franchise

Austin Aztex logo

 

By FRANCO PANIZO

San Antonio is not the only city in Texas with reported MLS aspirations.

According to a report from the Austin Chronicle, a local project group that may include Austin Aztex founder David Markley is ramping up efforts to build a soccer-specific stadium and bring an MLS expansion team to the city. The plans include spending $100 million for a stadium, $100 million for entrance into MLS and $30 million for a possible retractable roof on the stadium to enable indoor events.

The recent activity began when a group led by local Michael Wilt incorporated Austin FC, LLC on Wednesday. Wilt has been making contacts, including several City Council members, but has vowed that he will not be asking for any public funding from the city.

Markley did not comment about what his USL Premier Development League team is working towards, but stated that it is currently trying to finalize a “very beneficial development.”

A study is expected to help identify potential stakeholders, the economic feasibility of an MLS team in Austin, and potential stadium sites that take into account traffic impact and more.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who visited San Antonio recently to talk about the prospects of that city landing an MLS franchise, briefly mentioned Austin as a candidate for expansion during his State of the League address in December.

Currently, the only MLS teams in Texas are the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas.

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Would you like to see Austin land an MLS team? Prefer San Antonio get one instead? Think there is enough room for both of them?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Expansion. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Report: Austin group working to land an MLS expansion franchise

  1. downintexas says:

    Two things.

    1 Austin would be a good location

    2 Is the US sending a team to play Ukraine?

    • ZZtoppppp says:

      Klinsmann likely won’t release the roster until everyone arrives for training on Sunday

      • EspinDOHla says:

        Released just now

        FW: Agudelo, Altidore, Boyd, Dempsey, Green, Johannsson

        MF: Bedoya, Bradley, Diskerud, F. Johnson, Jones, Kljestan, Shea, Williams

        DF: Brooks, Cameron, Castillo, Morales,Onyewu, Packwood, Ream

        GKS: Cropper, Guzan, Howard

    • YES, the US is sendimg a team of mostly Europe based players to play Ukraine.
      JS

    • Mack says:

      Cool. Every city in US to get an MLS franchise, as league expands to 3,000 teams. Franchises are growing on trees everywhere. It’s just like Christmas!

      • quozzel says:

        It’s just soccer. England has 60 million people, and well over 200 pro franchises.

        The USA has over 300 million people. Even if you assume because of the crowded sports landscape soccer will never be more than half as popular here as it is in England (a notion I don’t agree with, demographics in the 12-24-year-old range suggest otherwise), then you do the math….

        There really isn’t a cap on how many teams the USA could eventually have. We likely won’t see the high-water mark in our lifetimes.

      • CJ says:

        And it’s sorta like the old NASL.

  2. Yadaki says:

    Wait wasn’t Austin where the current Orlando City SC team moved from, and weren’t they the Aztex? I thought they moved because they never had any attendance???

    • Marco says:

      No, they moved because the local hipsters thought it would be funny if they chased their team out of town ironically. In truth they loved their minor league soccer team, they just couldn’t suffer the loss of hipness points if they were seen to care about something.

      • ATX_Colin says:

        The stadiumn situation killed the old team, which did become the Orlando Franchise. The Aztecs came bak after that but its still the same problem, ie….bad stadium/not being allowed to drink beer.

        By the way hipsters love soccer its just unmainstream enough to enjoy, see Portland.

        I dont see Austin ever being able to compete with UT on the sports front.

        • Billy Ocean says:

          The stadium the Aztex played in was a high school football stadium, tough situation to gain a strong presence in Austin.

          Soccer is the perfect professional sport for Austin, especially sine UT does not have soccer. Austin is the biggest city in America without a professional sports franchise. Moreover, it has a similar demo and culture to Seattle and Portland and TV ratings in Austin for soccer are always very high; I think a pro team would do great in Austin if they put the stadium near downtown.

          • Rory Miller says:

            You know, I have to admit I had no idea Austin was that big. The rest of the country simply doesn’t know enough about it and we kind of forget there’s more to Texas than Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. We simply just don’t care about it.

        • Mike in Austin says:

          Should point out that soccer is likely the only sport that could break through the UT domination in Austin as there is no UT men’s soccer team only a great women’s team.

          As far as move, it was due to the lack of a stadium and Phil Rawlins belief that MLS would never give Texas a third team. The team averaged 3,700 fans per match in their final year in the USL-Pro. They averaged just a bit over 2,000 this past season in the USL-PDL.

          It would take a lot of work but there are a bunch of active soccer fans here so it could work.

          • Brian says:

            uhm… the women’s soccer team at UT is not great. They are barely average. Otherwise I agree, MLS could be great in Austin if done properly.

        • ColinATX2 says:

          I unfortunately concure. It’s tough to get more they 1.5k fans at house park. The older Aztec entity now Orlando F.C had a little better draw simply because they marketed waaaaay more than this group. One game maxed out @6k because they played Monterey in a preseason game that included other mls teams.
          There has never been a successful pro endeavor here( outside of our Texas wrangler arena football team)
          U-T has a lock on it. This makes it difficult for an invested to really believe they can bring $ and make it work. It’s a tough situation.
          I meet Ives here a few months back and I’m assuming that he came to get a feel for the team wanting to make the jump up.
          Any press is good press. Oh and we need the fans too!

        • user222 says:

          There is no need to compete with UT football… the goal is not to pack the stadium with 70K or 80K…

          an MLS in Austin just needs 20-30K consistently til the pro game grows and plants seeds in that area… then there is no turning back.

    • leoAtx says:

      Attendace was of the highest for usl. Problem was patience from phil rawlins on the stadium

  3. NASL to el paso tx says:

    Is there even land downtown austin for a stadium?
    If i was garber, i would give austin a big chance, austin is another portland but what about Nasl. Is austin aztex in uslpro or pdl?
    How about the name, austin tejanos :-) or austin alliance

    • kevin says:

      How about tayhanos

      • marymotherofjesus says:

        All this expansion talk is starting to get ridiculous . Make some money first mls

        • RAMONE says:

          “Make some money first mls”

          Who says they are not? Yes, there are a few teams who do poorly financially (losing a couple million). But isn’t this fairly normal throughout the soccer world? Even well known teams like Rangers and many others find themselves in the red. People love to hang on now 8 year old Forbes article about so many teams losing money, but does anyone bother to read the most recent one. You know, the one showing 10 of 18 teams making a profit and that every team in the league’s value is dramatically higher than what they paid to buy in? Even lowly ChivasUSA has revenue of $15M a year (with a $5.5M loss) and was estimated to be worth $64M last year (rumor had it MLS bought it for more than that).

          No, these are not EPL, NFL etc. numbers. Never will be. But make no mistake it is a profitable business even if some owners don’t realize the profit until they sell their club.

    • McCallumKnights says:

      How about Austin Flyers or Capitals since those are the two youth clubs that built the soccer infrastructure in Austin that exists today throughout the 80s/90s/2000s rather than the stupid Aztex, which by the way lived in central Mexico and have nothing to do with Austin. Christ, I will fight every hipster in here that wants to keep Aztex.

      • Zachary Simmons says:

        Yeah, it’s totally inappropriate to name a team after people – unless they were vikings, cowboys or fighting Irish. Then it’s completely fine.

        I’m sure PETA will be stigmatizing animal team names within the next few years.

      • leoAtx says:

        Thank you.. as a soccer supporter that name has to go

  4. Huhrod says:

    The only chance for a truly downtown stadium is if they worked out a deal with UT-Austin to use Myers Stadium on campus, which is a combined soccer/track facility. 20k capacity at present with minimal amenities.

    The stadium also hosts the Texas Relays in April, so they’d have to schedule around that in all likelihood.

  5. Conrad says:

    You know what? Screw it all. Just disband MLS and relocate all the existing franchises to Texas.

    • Mooncusser says:

      Or Canada.

    • islandofmind says:

      Seconded!
      Here’s how it might look:
      Austin United (simple enough for your average hipster)
      Fort Worth Red Bulls (Let’s just keep all the Bull stuff in the DFW area shall we?)
      FCDallas (South Oklahoma represent!)
      Galveston Whitecaps (Galveston College is the ‘Caps too but they can be bought off)
      New Braunfels Rapids (Am I right?)
      Vidor Union (Not exactly a “Union” town but hey, can’t we all just get along?)
      San Antonio Revolution (obvious)
      Temple Timbers (obvious to the locals)
      El Paso TFKACUSA (TeamFormerlyKnownAsChivasUSA)
      Corpus Christi Crew (they have actual working people there)
      Lubbock Galaxy (The stars come out in Lubbock – prairie dogs too)
      Sporting Cut & Shoot (had to put ‘em somewhere I guess)
      Alpine Earthquakes (they had a pretty “Big One” there back in ’95 & they’re close to Mexico)
      Lafayette L’Impact (French speaking soccer is in greater demand in Louisiana)
      Houston Dynamo
      Canada can keep TFC

  6. Dank says:

    I live in Austin and I think an MLS team would do very well here. Think Portland, but with a bigger Hispanic population.

  7. dude1 says:

    Is Texas going to be its own conference?

    • Don't Mess With Texas says:

      Texas wants / wanted to be their own state so hell why not just form their own league and conference??? They can call it the Lone Star Premier League sponsored by Wrangler and Justin boots.

  8. Drewbles says:

    MLS shooting for the 40 team mark, split the league into top and bottom tiers, commence relegation battles.

    • slowleftarm says:

      I actually think this will and should happen.

    • Bobb says:

      Split into Western and Eastern Conference, problem solved without condemning half the teams to life in a lower tier. Pro/Rel fans are a joke…

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      The obsession with artificially causing MLS teams to play minor league ball continues…and it will never happen…let the jokes fly on that one.

      I hope they hit 40 teams just to see the whiners cry when they don’t demote 1/2 the teams.

  9. formerlyanonymous says:

    So is this team 32 or 42, I forgot how many the MLS wants.

  10. merf says:

    Austin Aztex? Love the idea of a team there. Hate that stupid name! Ugh. Gimme something historically based please. (ex. the Fire)

    • Uncle Grandpa says:

      The Aztex is a horrible name

    • McCallumKnights says:

      Flyers, Flyers 100 times Flyers. If you grew up in Austin and played soccer before 2003 (when they merged with CC United and the Warriors to become Lonestars) you wanted nothing more than to play with those wings on your chest. The Capitals were the only other team that came close to matching their prestige. I played for both and I’m fine with either. I will still fight every hipster in here to the death for naming rights.

  11. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    AzTex? ….Oh I Get It!! You know ’cause theyre from Texas! Get it?! AZTEX -TEXAS.

  12. smitty6000 says:

    I doubt this guy has $230 million dollars. But if he does he’s better off spending it in San Antone. Bigger city, bigger Hispanic population. No UT to compete against.
    If Austin gets a team before SA it will be because Garber wants to spend pre-season at SXSW.

    • Billy Ocean says:

      Austin >>>> San Antonio. Austin is where the money is. Austin has a MUCH more affluent demo and the population and economy are growing at an incredible rate that isn’t going to slow down any time soon. MLS has tried to cater specifically to the Hispanic population and it hasn’t worked. In Austin you will have a fanbase similar to Portland, as well as a decent size Hispanic population to go along with it.

  13. Orlando_in_ATX says:

    I’ll be first in line to get season tickets! #AustinMLSReady

  14. McCallumKnights says:

    Even better yet. Name them the Austin Papandreas. After the man who invented soccer in Austin Luis Papandrea. When these Aztex hipsters were living in their hometown outside of Austin they weren’t sweating in 108 degree heat in Zilker Park getting yelled at for 8 hours a day during preseason bootcamp, rubbing desitin and baby powder on their crotch rot while getting yelled at in Spanglish. I dare somebody to tell me an Austin MLS team should be named the Aztex. Name the team after the real most interesting man in the world.

    link to lonestar-sc.com

  15. chuck says:

    No. San Antonio gets MLS, not Austin, not both. Period.

    There’s a stadium already ffs

  16. MrMaxican says:

    Just move Chivas to El Paso and let San Antonio and Austin build. Texas durby will be better than cascadia cup

  17. matt says:

    Traffic in Austin is horrible, and I mean horrible. The city planners royally screwed the pooch on that, as the city expands, and it is rapidly, it gets worse and worse. Trivial though at first, but when it is a huge pain in the ass to even get to a game attendance will suffer. Yes I know that other cities have traffic problems as well, but this is different in that the problems are of single miles not the tens of miles. It is an infrastructure problem that needs to be addressed for all aspects of the city not just pro sports.

    Wait on Austin till they have their infrastructure worked out.

  18. Rowsdower says:

    I live in Houston and I road trip to Austin for every away game. I love Austin. Now San Antonio is also nice but I would make that trip a bit less. If Dallas ever got a team I would consider driving up there too :)

  19. Shane says:

    Agreed that Chivas would do better in Austin or SA.

    UT just approved alcohol at all sporting events. If UT were to ever adopt a Men’s D1 program they would contend for a National Championship within 3 years. There is way to much talent in Texas getting lost and going away due to the lack of D1 programs in the entire state. Its basically SMU and thats it. If MLS could get a stadium downtown close to campus it would do very well, or a shared stadiumwith UT. If not SA is easily a better option. If they go to SA they need to get the Spurs ownership involved at all cost. Doesn’t have to be a majority share, just involvement some how. One of the best owners of any major sport in the US.

  20. NASL to El Paso tx says:

    Everyone forgets about El Paso tx………… El Paso might have the best soccer talent in texas and fans but all those cities like Austin, San Antonio, Dfw , Houston take all the state money and elm paso gets pennies.
    El Paso can easily be the best soccer city in texas