Let’s Talk About Stadiums and UT: Possibly the Worst Soccer Fan in Austin

(The University itself. We know the students and alumni love the beautiful game. Hook ‘Em!)

Last week, the Statesman published that a planned match between Manchester United versus Manchester City this summer at DKR Stadium on the University of Texas campus was scrapped. A single date change is being cited as the cause for the impasse between the event planners and UT officials.

An event of this magnitude in Austin would have been absolutely huge for soccer in this town. Huge! It would have created even more momentum for our quest for a professional soccer team in town and showcased to a global audience that Austin is the soccer town many of us know it to be.

But alas…

We don’t have any additional insight than the article on why things didn’t work out, but the field of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is sacred ground for American college football, so we’re sure anything that would conflicted with even a campus tour could have meant rejecting the event. The University has their own goals and priorities for their facilitities — they just aren’t ours. Thus, they have little incentive to support initiatives not in alignment with their own. Focusing anger at them is pointless.

However, this does help to serve as a clear reminder why if we want MLS here in Austin, we need to have a stadium and facility for events and other sports that is outside of UT control or influence. The University of Texas may not be out to actively stop pro-soccer in Austin, but they’re certainly not going to be pro-active about helping us bring it to the Capitol City.

The University of Texas may not be out to actively stop pro-soccer in Austin, but they’re certainly not going to be pro-active about helping us bring it to the Capitol City.
Still the best trophy in sports.

Sure, the Aztex hosted the ATX Pro Challenge at UT’s Myers Stadium, but the failed USL club reportedly paid out the wazoo for the privilege, eliminating any hope of using it as a home field after getting washed out at House Park.

UT is now rumored to be replacing the Erwin Center with a slightly smaller capacity, indoor venue. The 40-year-old facility is scheduled to be demolished in the next few years. This actually might prove to be the biggest “help” the university can provide to the MLSinATX movement. It means there will still be a need and demand in Austin for a approximately 20,000+ person capacity event venue to showcase and attract the largest musical acts and events to town, as well as a place that can provide easier access to state-of-the-art facilities for growing and emerging sports like International Rugby, Lacrosse, maybe even Drone Racing (yes, that’s becoming a thing). Then, there’s the small matter of an MLS team as an anchor tenant; a stadium solution is the centerpiece of Austin getting into the league. Last, the city would probably appreciate the additional revenue that might otherwise go into UT’s coffers.

A stadium solution is the centerpiece of Austin getting into the league.

Epic events of 70,000 people or more will always have to navigate the soccer politics of UT — they control the largest venue in town — but for us soccer fans, these world-class soccer teams are playing in plenty of MLS-sized venues around the country, this and every summer. Your favorite team can’t play here if there’s nowhere suitable and available for them to play, so even if you could care less about MLS, don’t you think having an alternative venue to attract your club to Austin makes sense?

Future Stadium Concept for FourFourTwo by Populous

If you want to start making a difference, reach out to your local city council person, Mayor Adler, and your State Representatives and Senators, and tell them you want a stadium in Austin, for Austin. Facebook has also just released a new tool call Townhall to help you find and engage your elected officials – if that’s your preferred communications tool.

Here’s an example message to send your officials. Feel free to edit to your liking:

Dear {NAME HERE},
My name is {YOUR NAME}. As a resident in the Austin area and a fan of soccer, I was disappointed to learn in the Austin American-Statesman that a plan to hold a soccer match at DKR Stadium in Austin between two of the largest and most recognizable soccer teams in the world was scrapped due to scheduling issues with UT. (http://atxne.ws/2nKFpUF) This event would have had a significant economic impact in Austin, would have been a great cultural event for the city, and would have showcased Austin to millions of soccer fans around the world.
Austin and professional soccer have had a troubled history — this being the latest in a series of events that shine a negative light on our vibrant soccer city. All of these issues have had a common element: The lack of a modern, accessible stadium to support a professional team and to attract other major sporting events.
In addition to sports, the city needs a facility to host outdoor events larger than current venues, that can support capacity needs greater than an Erwin Center replacement, and that will be able to host activities not in alignment with the University of Texas’ priorities and schedules. This can include conferences, music festivals — many of which already strain the capacities of our local parks, and growing and emerging sports like rugby, lacrosse, and even drone racing.
I ask that you provide the necessary support for private or public/private ventures to build a modern stadium for Austin and your assistance in bringing a Major League Soccer franchise to the Capitol City whom will call this new facility “home.”
Sincerely,
{YOUR NAME}

We’ll be launching additional information and materials for you to better engage government officials about supporting a stadium and securing a Major League Soccer Franchise in the near future. In the meantime, let’s start banging on those supporter drums and let our officials know that we want and need a stadium and use the loss of this marquee event to further the cause. Austin is too big and growing too fast to not have a professional sports team and we shouldn’t be losing out on economic, cultural, and promotional opportunities due to the lack of appropriate and modern facilities.


Thanks to everyone for their support!

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