MLS in Austin Stadium Watch: Butler Shores
On December 7th, Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) released renderings of a potential soccer stadium, nestled neatly in the heart of downtown Austin. The proposed site is Butler Shores Park, situated on the river between Zilker Park and the Zach Theatre. At MLS in Austin, we can not think of a better place to come together with our community, to celebrate the game that we love.
To begin with, a centralized, urban core location is an absolute prerequisite for a successful, modern, MLS soccer stadium. This has been reiterated by the league and PSV, time and time again. To offer this club the best chance at prolonged success in Austin, the stadium must not be an afterthought on the outskirts of town, but instead an integral piece of our urban landscape.
Whether fans live in Central Austin, Dripping Springs, Buda, Round Rock or Cedar Park, they’d be within about a 30 minute weekend drive of this stadium. A stadium at CoTA or in Cedar Park would make it very unlikely that those who live on the other side of the city would ever make it in for a game.
There is no other piece of stadium-sized land in this town that offers such spectacular skyline views and access to the popular Hike and Bike Trail. There is great food and drink nearby basically in all directions. South Lamar continues to be a focal point for dining in this town, and its impressive collection of restaurants would be just a half mile walk away. Matchdays would provide a nice boost for many of the local businesses nearby.
We love our parks in Austin, and the arteries of green that run through our town really do supply a lot of joy to Austinites. We would not consider parting ways with a park, if we didn’t believe what we would get in return would be extremely valuable to a large number of Austin residents.
In 2015, Austin had 20,556 total acres of parkland. This gave us 22.1 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. The National Recreation and Park Association recommends 10 acres per 1,000 residents for a city our size. So, we are doing great! The 10 acres that might be used for an MLS stadium would only amount to a .049% slice of our city’s parkland. However, Austin ranks 46th in the U.S. at Percent of City Population with Walkable Park Access. So perhaps, if Austin could financially benefit from leasing or selling this valuable land, and increase tax revenue as a result as well, this money could be reinvested into our Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) in a way that could provide more walkable parkland throughout the city. In FY 2014–15, 65 acres of new parkland were purchased and 28 acres were acquired through parkland dedication, and in FY 2013–14, 81 acres were purchased and 21 acres were acquired through dedication. So, clearly, the PARD has demonstrated an ability to continue to find land suitable for parks throughout the city. City parkland is colored green in the map below for reference.
The 10 acres that might be used for an MLS stadium would only amount to a .049% slice of our city’s parkland.
More specifically though, the parkland in consideration is Butler Shores. While some parks are obviously untouchable, such as Zilker Park and the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a total of only 150 families use this parkland each year for Little League baseball. We think it is important that if the stadium is built here, these Little Leaguers should be given improved facilities in a location that is just as accessible for them as Butler Shores. Relocating these fields could be very positive for the Little Leaguers as the fields are in disrepair, and the organization would benefit from brand new facilities. A stadium in this location would provide entertainment for tens of thousands of people per year through soccer games and special events.
Some Photos of the Current Butler Shores Location
Another concern we’ve heard and recognize is traffic and congestion. The solution to our traffic problems is not to stop building centrally. The more we spread out, the more single passenger cars will be used, and for longer periods of time. Urban sprawl, while convenient in some ways, is not environmentally friendly. PSV President Dave Greeley said that there are 13,000 parking spots within a 20-minute walk of the site. These spots, especially for Sunday games, will be able to accommodate a majority of fans. As with all downtown events, driving a car to the game will not be the only solution either. An estimated 450,000 people attend ACL Festival each year over the course of six days with no on-site parking available. The festival manages to get more than 70,000 people in and out of the park each day by using shuttle buses, ride shares, and pedicabs. About 20,000 attend Blues on the Green several times every summer, and it doesn’t create problems. When there is an event at the Erwin Center or Bass Concert Hall, with a similar number of people involved, the city doesn’t shut down. It hardly even causes a hiccup.
This proposed location would provide a stadium that is accessible to the most amount of Austinites, in the business and cultural center of our city. As lovers of soccer and this amazing city, we wholeheartedly endorse this plan.
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