First look: possible MLS soccer stadium along Lady Bird Lake

Austin MLS soccer stadium rendering. (Precourt Sports Ventures)
Austin MLS soccer stadium rendering. (Precourt Sports Ventures)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As an Ohio soccer team considers Austin for its new home, it’s also working to find the best place for its players and fans — and has highlighted a park along Lady Bird Lake as a “virtually perfect” location to build a new stadium.

In October, the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer team announced Austin made its list of places to move, but the team wanted a soccer stadium near downtown. Team owner Anthony Precourt said at the time that it would be willing to work with a city and privately finance the stadium.

“Whatever becomes the preferred site, we will start a comprehensive process of involving neighbors and other stakeholders to create a facility the whole community can embrace,” said Richard Suttle, who represents the company.

On Thursday, Precourt Sports Ventures released renderings of a stadium that could be built at 200 South Lamar Blvd., the Butler Shores at Town Lake Central Park. The company emphasized that the drawings are preliminary and that it would have to discuss it with the city and community organizations. The stadium would be 69 feet tall and its size would be comparable to UT’s Mike Meyers Stadium.

Suttle says it would be built down into the ground so that it wouldn’t sit too high and obstruct city views. Suttle also says the company wants the stadium to be compact and “designed with minimum traffic, light and sound impact as a priority.”

Suttle says he realizes traffic is a concern at the South Lamar Boulevard location and believes the stadium can still be successful with “little-to-no onsite parking,” by using shuttles, ride sharing and walking.

“The goal of having a downtown stadium is to have a place where you don’t have 20,000 parking places where everybody drives, parks, goes to the game and then leaves at the same time, because that jams up all the traffic,” Suttle said.

A stadium in that location would affect the South Austin Little League, and Suttle says they would work to take care of them and “improve their situation.” Suttle also added that if an election to designate the area as a stadium location were necessary, it would work with the city and local officials on the process.

Leaders of the Austin Girls Fastpitch Association still worry about where they’d go if they end up getting displaced.

“This is one of the few venues that Austin Girls Fastpitch has,” said Mario Garcia, the association’s vice president. “I know the profit’s good, but these girls have to have a place to play.”

Suttle maintains that the park would see greater use if his team steps in and redevelops it, adding that aside from the stadium, there could also be green space for other activities and even a spot for food trucks.

“We could enhance the park area in and around the stadium, so that when games are not being played, it’s still parkland and it’s still enjoyable by thousands of people, instead of hundreds, Suttle said.”

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department says it is still in the beginning stages of determining an appropriate spot for the stadium and will provide city council with its findings, as directed in a resolution it put forth in November.

The move by Columbus Crew, could face a legal challenge, however. On Thursday, the Ohio Attorney General issued a statement saying the state could file a lawsuit to block the move, using part of a law that followed the Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore in 1995. It requires any team getting public tax money to give six months notice or give the city a chance to buy the team.

Austin MLS soccer stadium rendering. (Precourt Sports Ventures)
Austin MLS soccer stadium rendering. (Precourt Sports Ventures)

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