A plan to build a soccer stadium on city parkland is meeting resistance at the Austin City Council, KUT-FM reported Wednesday.
Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns Columbus Crew SC, the Ohio MLS club that’s considering a relocation to Austin, has been pushing hard for a stadium its use to be built on Butler Shores, just south of the river on Toomey Road. PSV has made it clear that four other proposed sites, some privately owned, do not make the cut for Columbus Crew for one reason or another; it has also made it clear that a new stadium is essential for its move to Austin and has made it clear that a downtown location is preferred.
While some Austin residents have reacted with glee, many others are outraged at the idea of building a stadium at the location, where Barton Creek meets Lady Bird Lake’s south shore. According to KUT, the Zilker Neighborhood Association asked that the site be removed from consideration. Its memo, sent to Elaine Hart, Interim City Manager Elaine Hart and Parks and Recreation Department Acting Director Kimberly McNeeley, argues that the city “should not provide public parkland for private for-profit ventures, especially in an area as environmentally sensitive as the confluence of Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake” and that “valuable public space would be sacrificed for the profit of an out-of-town business operation.”
Council Member Ann Kitchen, whose district includes the parkland in question, has issued a resolution to remove the two originally proposed park sites—Butler Shores and Guerrero Park—from consideration for the stadium and to take a closer look at previously proposed McKalla Place in North Austin near the Domain (as well as a MetroRail station). The resolution is co-sponsored by council Members Alison Alter, Jimmy Flannigan, and Leslie Pool, according to the KUT story.
In response, Precourt issued a statement that acknowledged the reservations about building a stadium on parkland, according to KUT, but also asserted that, in general, Austinites want an MLS team. Nevertheless, the statement reads,
As we have stated from the onset of this process, finding the right site for a stadium will be of the utmost importance as we contemplate bringing MLS to Austin. With that in mind, we have done comprehensive work on the Butler Shores site, including independent studies on traffic, parking, lights and sound, among others, and that will be complete in the next few weeks.
he Austin City Council is expected to discuss the matter at its regular meeting on Feb. 15, when Precourt will present its report.