Aztex to sit out 2016, search for new stadium

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Aztex will not field a team in 2016 as the team continues to search for a permanent home stadium in Austin, the United Soccer League announced Friday.

The Aztex joined the USL prior to the 2015 season and were granted a one-year waiver from the league to secure a stadium designed specifically to host soccer. The team was playing at House Park but finished the season at the Reeves Athletic Complex after House Park was damaged during the Memorial Day flooding.

The unexpected mid-season move hindered efforts to find a stadium that would meet league requirements, according to the team.

“We will be working hard to ensure the long-term viability of professional soccer in the city of Austin. We will be back in full force committed to returning for the 2017 season,” the team said in a statement.

Both House Park and Reeves Athletic Complex primarily host high school sporting events and have permanent football lines on the turf.

The University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium is the home field for the UT soccer team and is the only existing stadium in the Austin area that would satisfy the USL’s requirements. The Aztex played two preseason games at Myers Stadium prior to the 2015 season as part of a four-team round robin featuring three teams from Major League Soccer.

“The USL is committed to having its clubs play in quality facilities that meet or exceed U.S. Soccer Federation standards and understands the challenges the Austin Aztex have faced this year,” USL President Jake Edwards said.

“We are honoring Austin’s request for the necessary time to construct a soccer-specific stadium of its own for the 2017 season that the club, its fans and the entire Austin community will be proud of. While we realize this isn’t the desired short-term outcome for the club and its fans, it is necessary to ensure the club’s success for years to come.”

The USL is the third division for professional soccer in the United States. The Aztex joined the league after winning a championship in the lower-tier USL PDL in 2014.

USL franchises have gone on to join the MLS, the top tier for professional soccer in the United States. Austin would likely make the list of desired markets if the league sought to expand.  However, securing a soccer-specific stadium would be among the first hurdles the team and the city would have to clear for the MLS to be a realistic scenario.

Djorn Buchholz, Chief Commercial Officer with Austin Aztex, says, “Short term this is going to sting, we’ve got a lot of fans out there that we’ve been grateful for that helped us this entire season and moved up north when we went to Round Rock, but short term it’s a tough one that’s for sure.”

If you want to support the drive to bring a stadium to Ausin, visit the Stadium for Austin website.

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