Stadium drama: ZACH Theatre says MLS stadium next door would cause ‘major issues’

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

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The ZACH Theatre is urging its patrons to contact city council members days after Butler Shores was named as the preferred location for a stadium by the company hoping to move its Major League Soccer team to Austin.

“Bringing 20,000 people per event to the Butler Shores site would cause major issues for our theater and our Zilker neighbors, with traffic, noise pollution, and parking being the most significant as the proposal includes no additional parking for the stadium,” ZACH managing director Elisbeth Challener said to patrons in an email, adding that traffic and parking were already an issue at South Lamar Boulevard and Toomey Road.

On Wednesday, a representative for Precourt Sports Ventures, the owner of Columbus Crew S.C. in Columbus, Ohio, said two possible sites out of an original five were ruled out: the Travis County Expo Center and a vacant lot at Interstate 35 and St. Johns’s Avenue.

With three potential locations remaining — Butler Shores at Town Lake Metro Park, Guerrero Metro Park and 10414 McKalla Place — the company representative said Butler Shores, currently baseball fields to the west of the ZACH Theatre, was the ideal location for a soccer stadium thanks to its prime location in the urban core of Austin.

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

Challener says the proposal to build a stadium could go before a vote in Austin City Council as soon as Feb. 15. The ZACH is asking its supporters to contact their city council members between now and Feb. 10 to express your opinion on the stadium proposal.

“There is also a substantial possibility that City Council action may be deferred for weeks or months and this may appear on the election ballot in either May or November, 2018,” Challener wrote. “For that reason, it is important that you communicate your thoughts to the City Council members now, and rest assured that we will keep you informed as things progress.”

The managing director also says neighborhood organizations are planning a community forum to discuss the stadium proposal.

“ZACH Theatre is very excited about the possibility of MLS Soccer coming to Austin on the appropriate site. We are concerned that the Toomey Road location will present problems given the proximity to neighborhoods, Zilker Park and ZACH, considering the traffic and parking issues that already exist. However, we have already had conversations with Precourt representatives and are ready with an open mind to hear what solutions they may have to address these issues,” Challener said in a statement to KXAN.

In a city memo Wednesday, Kimberly A. McNeeley, the acting director of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department — which has its main office just feet from Butler Shores — wrote the city had not received definitive feedback from Precourt Sports Ventures on the viability of any of the proposed sites for a stadium. Without the feedback, the city said it will not begin community engagement.

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