Professional soccer is returning to Central Texas.
The USL announced the league would be returning to Austin ahead of the 2019 season. A new soccer-specific 5,000 seat stadium will be built at Circuit oft eh Americas and the track’s chairman Bobby Epstein will be the majority owner.
“I’m excited to help bring professional soccer back to Austin and want to thank the USL for helping in the process to secure a suitable venue to host a high-level soccer experience for our fans,” Epstein said in a release. “Preparations for kickoff in 2019 are already underway, and I look forward to revealing more information about the club in the coming future.”
The USL currently has 30 teams in the league with that number rising to 35 when Austin joins the league in 2019. Las Vegas, Fresno, California, and Nashville will begin play in 2018 and a team from Birmingham, Alabama will come in with Austin in 2019.
USL signed a TV deal with ESPN in 2016 and had 20 matches shown live on ESPN3 with the championship being shown on ESPNU. The deal continued in 2017, with three games being shown on ESPN3. All other games are streamed live on the league’s YouTube channel.
Austin last had a professional soccer team in 2015 with the Austin Aztex. Their regular stadium, House Park, was flooded in 2015 and they finished the year at Kelly Reeves. Neither stadium was unto league standards and the team didn’t play during the 2016 or 2017 seasons.
The Aztex were hugely successful on the field in their four seasons of existence, winning the USL PDL title in 2012 and advancing to the conference finals in 2014 and 2012. The new soccer venture will not be named the Aztex.
“The USL’s return to Austin is a major moment for the league as it continues to lead the growth of professional soccer across the country,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “(Bobby Epstein’s) work alongside the league’s leadership over the past two years to ensure professional soccer’s long-term stability in an outstanding city with a passionate fanbase has been exceptional, and we are delighted that this day has arrived.”