Once the ‘alright, alright, alright’ chants from the group of Austin FC supporters in the back of the tent had simmered down, the celebration could really get going.
Austin FC broke ground on a $242 million, privately-financed stadium on Monday, with club CEO Anthony Precourt, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott and other club and city officials on hand.
“This is really a vision coming to reality,” Precourt said. “I’ve got chill right now. My heart is pumping. We’ve hit a number of milestones, but there’s no bigger one than a groundbreaking.”
It is set to be completed in April 2021, and the team is set to become the 27th team in the league. The stadium near The Domain, at the southwest corner of Burnet Road and Braker Lane, will be the 21st soccer-specific stadium in the league.
The initial construction plan has been approved by the City, but other phases have yet to be given the green light.
According to the team, the site will include eight acres of open green space, a full canopy to cover the 20,500 seats in the stadium, a natural grass pitch and more than 800 parking spaces on the 24-acre piece of land.
“These are the days that I enjoy the most,” Abbott said. “To see another milestone in the launch of this team, particularly with this building. This is an Austin building, and I think the community is going to be proud of it.”
Precourt said news of a training ground would be forthcoming, and other milestones for the club include hiring a general manager and continuing to build out the soccer operations of the club and sponsors.
The groundbreaking is the latest in a flurry of moves Austin FC has had in the. Last few months, including naming Josh Wolff as the team’s first head coach and a new group of local investors, which includes Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey.
“We want a team, a stadium and an experience that grows the legend of Austin and all of that call this place home,” McConaughey said. “Like the lie oak, that is our emblem, it’s going to take the strength of us all.”
MLS is expanding, with St. Louis, Miami and Nashville set join Austin FC in the league in the next few seasons.
The league announced in April that it would go to 30 teams. Abbott said they’re working on team No. 29 now, but more Texas teams, including San Antonio, aren’t being considered in that timeframe.
No matter who the opponent is, Austin FC’s home is officially starting to grow.
“It’s a joyful day for me, it’s a joyful day for Austin FC and it’s a joyful day for Austin,” Precourt said. “To see everyone coming together, there’s been a conversation about this, and we listened. We want to build this for the City and have it be celebrated and have it bring joy. It’s a big step forward.”