Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SSE) chipped in an extra $3m that also goes to Hartman’s nonprofit, in return for a 20-year lease on the facility and its training complex. Their annual rent is a modest $100,000 and they agreed to spend $1m on upgrades. If they do not secure an MLS franchise in the next six years they will start incurring penalties of up to $5m owed to the city and county.
The Texas capital would be the smallest market in MLS. It ranks 39th overall, just below Greenville, S.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla. Its USL team, the Aztex, is taking the season off after its House Park stadium was damaged by floods last year. There’s political interest but no potential ownership, at least publicly. Nevertheless, Garber mentioned Austin last week, so it’s mentioned here as well. Institutions like the University of Texas and SXSW certainly boost the city’s profile, and the fact that it’s less than two hours from San Antonio might leave some hoping it’s a viable south Texas option. But Austin is the least likely expansion site among the cities Garber referenced.
If the funds are approved, they will be the first significant public dollars received by the Crew since the team was purchased by Anthony Precourt in July 2013. Loughnane said Precourt has since spent “millions and millions” to upgrade Mapfre Stadium and the team’s Obetz facility, and that the new field would serve a region “starved for soccer-specific facilities, particularly all-weather facilities.”
Jeff Carlisle says “Garber mentioned Detroit, St. Louis, San Diego, San Antonio, and Austin as possible #MLS expansion markets in addition to Sacramento.” – Link to Tweet
Dale Kasler says “Garber: also talking to Detroit, StL, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin but Sac “very high” on list” – Link to Tweet
Brian Straus – “There’s political interest but no potential ownership, at least publicly. Nevertheless, Garber mentioned Austin last week, so it’s mentioned here as well.”
Reid Laymance – “St. Louis and Sacramento leaders of the pack for MLS expansion, Don Garber says. Others: Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio and Austin. 2020” Link to Original Tweet
Alexander Abnos – “Asked to give an expansion priority, Garber says: “Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, and I’d be remiss to not point out Cincinnati.”” Link to Original Tweet
Hank Winnicki – “MLS commish Don Garber says cities being considered for expansion: Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, Cincinnati.” Link to Original Tweet
Kevin Lyttle – “No surprise here, but Austin @AustinAztex ranks 6th on #MLS commish Don Garber’s expansion list, one spot behind S.A. Top 3: STL, SAC, DET” Link to Original Tweet
Jim Lefko – “MLS expansion story update from commish Don Garber on San Antonio & Austin: https://t.co/6pqt6cfcZf” Link to Original Tweet
On April 14th, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber made an official appearance in the city of Sacramento to address future league expansion. While speaking at a supporters event, Garber all but issued an invitation for USL club Sacramento Republic FC to join the MLS. Throughout his speech Garber mentioned other cities with MLS potential such as St. Louis, Detroit, San Antonio, San Diego and Austin. Many fans including myself were a little disappointed, but not shocked that FC Cincinnati was not mentioned.
A group of investors including Bobby Epstein, CEO of Circuit of The Americas, and Rene van de Zande, owner of the Austin Aztex minor-league soccer team, has been trying to bring an MLS team to Austin. But they face a number of obstacles. To start, Major League Soccer has said it wants its teams to have stadiums in downtown locations easily accessible by public transit. Currently, Austin has no such facility. The lack of a stadium for a minor-league soccer team was the main reason the Aztex went into hiatus. Aztex management continue to look for a stadium site, but they will have to move fast if they want to be back in action for the 2017 season.