Austin FC officially lands MLS franchise

Austin FC is officially the 27th Major League Soccer team and will open play in 2021, the league announced Tuesday.
It marks the first professional team for Austin among the five major American sports. The city is also home to the University of Texas and had rabidly supported major college sports.
Austin is the 11th-largest U.S. city in population. Until now, Austin had been the only city in the top 20 that didn’t have a major pro sports team in its metropolitan area.
Commissioner Don Garber believes the MLS will be a big hit in Austin.
“Austin might be in Texas, but it certainly feels very different than any other city in the state,” Garber told reporters while in attendance at a ceremony in Austin. “It’s always good to be first in anything you do.
“I think our optimism about the success of this club is going to drive other leagues to start thinking about Austin because the city is growing so fast and has got such political and strategic importance to what’s going on in our economy and throughout our country.”
The franchise will play in a 20,000-seat soccer stadium being built in North Austin. The stadium was approved last month, and that left the MLS just needing to decide whether Austin FC would start play in 2020 or 2021.
Anthony Precourt is the team’s majority owner, and one of the conditions of him owning the expansion franchise was to sell his interests in the Columbus Crew. Precourt, who had threatened to move the Crew to Austin last year, recently sold his stock in the Columbus team to a group that includes Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam.
“This is a very proud moment for Precourt Sports Ventures, and we share it with the people of Austin, City leadership, the dedicated soccer fans of the region, and everyone who believed in our mission to bring Major League Soccer to this incredible community,” Precourt said in a statement. “The greatest way we can show our gratitude is in our actions as leaders of Austin FC. Our pledge is to build three essential pillars: a team that will be a perennial contender for MLS Cup, a stadium at McKalla Place that rivals the best sporting venues in North America, and a club that will bring people together and always give back.”
MLS is adding a 24th team this year as FC Cincinnati moves up from the United Soccer League. Teams in Miami and Nashville are due to join the league in 2020. The league plans to select the site of a 28th team in the next year, with Detroit, St. Louis, Sacramento and Phoenix widely viewed to be the front-runners.
–Field Level Media

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