MLS in Austin: An Additional Community Benefit

Since 2013, we have advocated to bring Major League Soccer to Austin. We believe wholeheartedly in what a team of this caliber can mean to our city. The numerous economic and community benefits that have been discussed are as important to us as they are to our community and city leaders. As we move into the final week of this debate and numerous items in the term sheet are discussed, we would like to remind all involved that one of the community benefits to MLS in Austin will be our Supporters Group.

We have spent much of the last year working to show our city what a large scale major league supporters group can mean to the community. Following this week’s vote, and the subsequent team announcements, we will move from our current aspirational mission into an operational role that supports our members, the team and the community in numerous ways.

As the official supporters group of Austin’s MLS team, we will be in charge of mobilizing and directing the energies of the team’s most passionate and loyal fans. While we have members from all over the country, the bulk of our group are from all parts of Austin and are representative of the reasons why Major League Soccer loves our city. We have seen tremendous growth over the last several months. All indications point to us having an incredible fan base for the team as it starts play in 2019.

Our Supporters Section (Image: PSV and Gensler)

An average supporters group for an MLS team ranges from 1,500 to 5,000 people. The PSV stadium plans detail a supporters section, standard for soccer clubs around the world, that contains a single stand area of almost 4,000 seats. We expect our membership to fill those seats for every game providing traditional soccer chants, songs, flag waving, TIFO banners, and helping to drive the entire stadium fan experience.

Our goal, however, is to provide more than an amazing game day experience. We want to extend the community feeling of the game day experience for our members to social events and charitable work. We plan to mobilize our thousands of members for community donations and directed volunteer work. As a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, we will provide transparency in our finances and input regarding our goals and who how we provide community benefits.

Key philanthropic goals of MLS in Austin

Monetary donations and scholarships

  • It’s our goal to commit up to 30% of our annual operating budget as donations and scholarships to local charitable work.
  • Our focus will start with support for youth soccer in the Austin area as well as include other Austin-area needs as we can be in support (disaster relief, educational supplies, homelessness, housing, etc)
  • As we grow we expect to be able to contribute between $15,000 to $35,000 annually towards this goal.

Volunteer coordination for members

  • Our membership will give us a powerful platform to drive volunteering hours for causes all over Austin.
  • Austinites are nationwide leaders in giving of their time. We are excited about our potential to impact the community in this way.
  • As we grow our membership we expect to contribute between 4,000–12,000 hours annually of volunteer effort into our community.
  • The Independent Sector states a volunteer hour dollar equivalent equals $24.14/hr. Therefore, our community benefit of volunteer time equals between $96,600 and $289,800 annually.

We are a group that strives to be more than a collection of fans that meet out to cheer on a team, though we certainly will enjoy doing that. We strive to bring together and be representative of the entirety of Austin soccer fans, to embody Austin values, and give an outlet to be involved for thousands in our community. As such, we are but one of the many additional community benefits that are part of MLS coming to Austin, but do not fit into a term sheet.

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