The Biggest Year So Far (With So Much More to Come)
By Josh Babetski, President of Austin Anthem/El Himno de Austin
Five years ago, we started MLS in Austin with a simple mission: Bring an MLS franchise to Austin Texas. I’m proud of the work our group has done.
2018 was the biggest year so far in Austin soccer, and there’s so much more to come. We got a name for our team, we renamed ourselves Austin Anthem, we got a stadium location, and we got a stadium deal approved and the lease signed among other things. Basically, everything we dreamed of is in place except the official announcement. There have been plenty of semi-official announcements over the past few weeks however and we expect to see Commissioner Garber in Austin early in 2019.
Stats and Status
Austin Anthem has seen phenomenal growth, and there’s still more growing and more work to do. Everybody loves stats, so here are just a few:
- We’ve added over 700 new members since this time last year. Our membership growth has been fueled by your outreach and support and of course — progressively more positive news about a team coming to town.
- Our organizational team has continued to grow. We’ve gone from one to three to 10 to almost 30 members serving in leadership or committee roles.
- While most of our membership exists here in the Lone Star state, we have several members from outside of Texas, including New York, California, Georgia, Wisconsin, Florida, and even — OHIO!
- When we relaunched as Austin Anthem, we also launched our commitment to being a bilingual supporters group. We now have dedicated Spanish-language versions of our social accounts and website.
- Just over 10% of our members are female. This is a number we’re actively working to increase and grow. We have a Women’s Engagement team focused on this mission.
- We run an inclusive SG and understand that a more diverse group is a more stronger and representative group. We have an open role for a Director of LGBTQ relations to help us in that goal.
- 28% of our membership list having kids. We’re going to have dedicated outreach for family engagement and have a Director of Families role open.
You’ve heard this from us before and you’ll hear it again: This is a supporters group for all of Austin! We don’t care if you are new to the supporter arts or a lifelong football fan. We don’t care who you love, what language you speak at home, what country you were born in, or what other soccer teams you support. If you believe these things too and want to help us support Division One soccer in Austin: You’re one of our own.
Between Now and First Kick
2021 is when our team will likely kick its first ball in a new stadium at McKalla Place. If 2020 happens, it will only be because the deal to keep a club in Columbus fell apart or Nashville of Miami somehow can’t make their 2020 start date.
We’ll have plenty of events, activities and road trips scheduled to keep us busy until our inaugural match. In 2018, we typically had more than one SG-related happening a month — expect that trend to continue or increase in 2019.
We entered 2018 with a philosophy that a team in Austin was a matter of “when” and not “if” and acted accordingly and with confidence. Now that we know “where” and almost-”when”, you’ll see us head into 2019 focused on growing the fanbase and the lots of planning required ahead of our match day debut. The members of Austin Anthem will define our own supporter culture, traditions, and standards for an MLS supporters group.
We’re already working on some exciting things for our supporters section in and around the stadium. From how the supporters section is configured, to the stadium march, to activities around goals, and cheers, and tifo. More on that next year, but the important thing here is that we will have a section of our own for 3000 of our closest friends.
So, my holiday wish is for every member to recruit one new person a month to sign up for Austin Anthem. If each of us can get just one person, our supporter section will be waitlisted before the summer.
A Final Round of Thanks for 2018
- Thank you to all of those who believed what I believed 5 years ago: Austin is a great city, a great soccer town, and will be a great addition to MLS.
- Thank you for becoming a member of MLS in Austin and now Austin Anthem.
- Thank you for showing up to rallies, and watch parties, and city hall meetings that went until 4a.m.
- Thank you to the Mayor and members of City Council who supported soccer in Austin — all of whom won their re-election bids. Coincidence? We think not. Austin loves soccer. Austin votes soccer.
- Thank you for helping us build more than a supporters group, but also a community organization that can use our size and scale to make a positive impact all over Austin.
- Thank you to Anthony Precourt and the teams at PSV and MLS2ATX who worked hard to make a team in Austin a reality.
- Thank you to the wonderful organizational team that keeps this SG train rolling. They are the real heroes in this story.
- And last but not least: Thank you to my family who has supported me and this group during every stage of its growth and evolution.
More exciting things to come in 2019. Let’s go!
Austin Anthem is the independent supporters group for Austin FC, the future Major League Soccer club of Austin, Texas.
For more information, visit us online at AustinAnthem.org
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