Months after locking in Josh Wolff as head coach, Austin FC is reportedly on the verge of naming one of MLS’ best sporting directors to the same role.
The Athletic reported on Wednesday that Anthony Precourt’s Austin FC has hired Claudio Reyna from New York City FC to be the expansion club’s new sporting director. It’s the second expansion club that Reyna is working for since he joined NYCFC in 2013 as its first director of soccer operations.
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If true, it’s a shrewd move by Precourt to bring in a man who knows MLS like the back of his thumb, and to pair him with a former teammate from the U.S. Men’s National Team. Wolff’s spent almost his entire career in professional soccer in MLS too, so the club now has two influential individuals who are knowledgable about the league and it’s various roster mechanisms.
Austin FC doesn’t enter MLS until 2021, so locking in Reyna now gives him more than a year of runway towards building an MLS-ready roster. Precourt has surely seen the best-case scenario – Seattle, Los Angeles FC, Atlanta United – where a team loaded with top-heavy talent and good role players can make a deep playoff run in its expansion season. But he’s likely also seen the worst-case scenarios – look at Minnesota United in the past and FC Cincinnati this year.
Bringing in Reyna certainly makes it more likely that Austin FC’s future will lie in the former category.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Officials in Austin, Texas, have finalized a partnership for a new 20,000-seat stadium for the eventual Major League Soccer club Austin FC.
The deal with PreCourt Sports Ventures will build a $225 million privately funded stadium on city land. It would be open spring 2021 when Austin FC is expected to start playing.
The stadium project was born out of Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt’s efforts to relocate the franchise to Austin. That plan drew fierce resistance from Crew fans as well as local and state officials in Ohio. The Crew is expected to stay in Columbus under a new ownership group led by Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.
The Austin venue will be an open-air facility with a natural grass playing field built on land that has been vacant for 25 years.
Austin FC would be the first major league professional franchise in the Texas capital.
The Austin City Council voted 7-4 to approve a stadium planned by Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt, the latest step in Precourt’s bid to move the MLS franchise to Texas.
The stadium will be scheduled for a 2021 completion. USL side Austin Bold will begin play next season.
Precourt spoke briefly following the announcement, saying, “We’re bringing Major League Soccer to Austin, Texas” and clapping his hands.
[ MORE: All #SaveTheCrew news ]
The Ohio Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against MLS and Precourt Sports Ventures, claiming that moving the Crew to Austin would be illegal. That lawsuit’s day in court is still a few weeks away.
Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer says the city will continue its fight to “Save the Crew.”
Columbus Crew ownership group Precourt Sports Ventures were hoping to have the framework in place to build a stadium in Austin by Thursday night. Instead, they’ll have to wait a little bit longer.
The Austin City Council was set to vote on a term sheet agreed on by Austin city administrators and PSV but after two hours of public comments and 20 amendments proposed to the agreement, the council eventually tabled the discussion to Wednesday morning. The amendments led to harsh words from Austin mayor Steve Adler, who called them “poison pills,” in effect delaying or killing the deal by bureaucracy.
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Adler later said that the term sheet will be voted on by the city council on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. local time).
The term sheet, recently revised by PSV and agreed to between the city and PSV, calls for the building of a soccer-specific stadium at McKalla Place, located 10 miles north of downtown Austin. The deal calls for the team to finance the construction of the stadium at the site and then for the city to lease the land to PSV for $1 per year and then for the team to pay $550,000 per year in rent from the sixth year and on. In addition, a non-relocation clause has ironically been added.
However, amendments to the term sheet include raising yearly payments to nearly $1 million per season, that PSV should pay the full cost of having a transit station site next to the stadium (instead of splitting the costs with the city) and another final vote on the stadium.
One of the most interesting parts of Thursday evening’s council meeting was the revelation that PSV has missed a pair of MLS-imposed deadlines to complete a stadium deal, first in early July and then August 10. We’ll see if MLS will continue to move the goalposts to allow PSV to continue to move the Crew.
Council members also discussed on Thursday the impact of the ongoing lawsuit against PSV by the city of Columbus and state of Ohio, which could stall or delay the Crew’s departure. Things could change on Wednesday but as of this point, it looks like the Crew will be in Columbus for the 2019 season.
The #SaveTheCrew movement has taken MLS by storm, particularly with Columbus Crew SC performing so well once again in 2018, but, a move out of the city appears imminent.
Precourt Sports Ventures — who owns the Crew — appear to have found a potential location for relocation to Austin, according to a city report.
“Overall, staff’s assessment indicates that McKalla Place is a suitable site for a Major League Soccer stadium,” the report said. “There is current compliant zoning, sufficient utility capacity, and daily on-site trips would be low.”
If granted, the stadium would be privately financed in order to bring the Crew from Columbus to Austin.
PSV is hopeful that a deal will be finalized by the end of June, which would help expedite the process of relocating the club — which has been stationed in Columbus since MLS’ inception in 1996.
According to the current plan, a stadium could be constructed in time for the 2021 MLS season, which would likely mean the Crew spend two more years in Ohio unless they could find a temporary venue in Texas during the construction of the new venue.